Stallion Race Rose To The Occasion

Astern (pic. Lisa Grimm)


There are a number of Group One races in Australia considered to be ‘stallion makers’.

The Golden Slipper for one. The Coolmore Stud Stakes is another, the Lightning, Caulfield Guineas …

The Golden Rose is rapidly gaining currency too as THE race to win if you have a well bred colt.

Only moments after Astern cruised to an emphatic victory in Saturday’s Golden Rose, Sky commentator and long-time industry analyst, Tony Brassel, mused: “that was worth $20 million”.

It is certainly testimony to the strength of the Australian thoroughbred industry – enhanced by the recent announcement of massive prizemoney increases – that winning a first prize of $600,000 can be actually dwarfed by stud potential.

Whereas once upon a time large investors raced to purchase controlling shares in a colt just one or two runs into his career, yearling sales are now the major beneficiaries with buyers attempting to get in at ground level.

Darley Australia take it a step further though and tend to breed their own, as is the case with Astern.

That was some win in the 2016 Golden Rose. Not unexpected by any means given that the John O’Shea trained galloper was sent out a $3.20 favourite, but what did have racing fans in thrall was the ‘command’ of his performance. When they were loading into the barriers, jockey James McDonald said the colt was like a boxer psyching out his opponents and, herd mentality or not, Astern dominated like few others.

Astern has now won five of his six starts: winning easily on debut last December; beating Defcon in the Group Two Silver Slipper; racing near the lead but finishing 11th behind Capitalist in the Golden Slipper – his only failure; redeeming himself by dead-heating with Winx’s baby (half) brother, El Divino in the Group Three Kindergarten; winning the Group Two Run To The Rose on resumption and; now the Golden Rose, which takes his ‘current’ earnings to a tick over seven figures.

McDonald was especially pleased with the way Astern ‘settled’ in the race and trainer, John O’Shea, is confident “he will run a mile” with the ultimate target appearing to be next month’s Group One Caulfield Guineas (1600m).

An integral member of the Godolophin racing/Darley breeding empire, Astern is by the El Prado sire, Medaglia d’Oro, who has now produced two Group One winners and 15 stakes winners overall in Australia. The other Group One star is last year’s Golden Slipper winner, Vancouver, who now stands at a fee of $66,000 and was secured for the Coolmore operation in a deal that places his stud value at $40 million. That’s a lot of Gold.

Astern is out of, Essaouira, a daughter of another Darley stallion in Exceed And Excel, and while her main achievement on the track was a win at two, she has three winners from as many to race. Essaouira’s dam dam, Alizes, granddam, (Group One winner) La Baraka, and great granddam (Champion) Triscay are all stakes winners.

Darley Australia’s Head of Sales, Alastair Pulford, was understandably elated at Astern’s Golden Rose victory and said the colt will eventually make an important addition to the operation’s roster: “What a terrific performance. Horses of this calibre only come along rarely and he (Astern) clearly has all the right attributes, both as a racehorse and stallion prospect.

“His sire, Medaglia d’Oro, has been doing a terrific job in both hemispheres, but he wasn’t flying solo on Saturday. Astern’s damsire, Exceed And Excel, had a stakes winner in Perth with Stocks, Sheraco Stakes winner, Heavens Above is by the sadly departed Street Cry and, of course, the other Group One race in Australia – the Makybe Diva – was taken out by Palentino, a son of Teofilo who has returned to us this spring.”

The Power of Passion