Written by Bren O’Brien for the TDNAusNZ 11/11/2020

Sneaky Five’s (Fastnet Rock) emergence as one of the standout 2-year-olds prospects of the season so far has proved the cherry on top of a terrific spring for her owners at Rosemont Stud.

Rosemont’s stallions had already been getting the job done before Sneaky Five put their distinctive red with white ‘gatecrasher’ lion colours up in lights in rich 2-year-old races in Melbourne and Sydney.

Shamus Award has produced three stakes winners already this season, including G1 Toorak H. winner Mr Quickie, who was bred and is part-owned by the Victorian-based farm, while fellow resident Starspangledbanner has had ongoing success in both hemispheres and young Rosemont stallion Nostradamus has his first stakes horse in leading G1 NZ 1000 Guineas contender Tinker McPhee.

Off the back of that success, Sneaky Five, who has won both the R. Listed Inglis Banner and the $1M Golden Gift this spring, has compiled a tidy $883,000 in prizemoney in just two starts.

She has already paid back the $305,000 that Rosemont paid for her from the Goldin Farms draft at this year’s Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and shapes as one of the favourites for the major 2-year-old features of 2021, including the G1 Golden Slipper.

Sneaky Five (red silks) | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

It was less than a month ago that Sneaky Five had her first public hit-out in Caulfield jump-out, which prompted Rosemont Principal Anthony Mithen to strongly suggest to co-trainer Ciaron Maher that a racetrack debut in the Inglis Banner at Moonee Valley might be the right path for the Fastnet Rock filly.

“Ciaron rang me after her first jump-out which was a couple of Tuesdays before Cox Plate day, and it was her first proper jump-out at Caulfield. He said ‘she goes bloody nicely this filly’,” Mithen told TDN AusNZ.

“The conversation turned to her what else was in the jump-out, including a one of her stablemates that she had travelled just as well as, and was headed to the Inglis Banner. I got the ‘green-eyed monster’ and I said, ‘if we have travelled as well as the other one, why can’t we go and have a shot at a $500,000 race as well?!

“Ciaron initially thought I was joking and said she’s only had one 650 metre jumpout. He wanted to jump her out the next week and said ‘she’ll probably brain them’, and so I said to him, ‘why don’t we see if she can brain them in a $500,000 race instead?”

“He wanted to jump her out the next week and said ‘she’ll probably brain them’, and so I said to him, ‘why don’t we see if she can brain them in a $500,000 race instead?”

After a couple of days thinking through Mithen’s suggestion, Maher opted to enter Sneaky Five in the Moonee Valley race and once she got through a gallop on the track ahead of Cox Plate day, decided to accept with her.

“I was surprised she came up favourite, because there was no exposed form, nothing other than that one jump-out. We didn’t know how she would go. But we rolled the dice and got the result,” Mithen said.

A Golden plan

What flowed from there was a plan to send her to Sydney for the rich Golden Gift, a race which has only emerged on the calendar as a pre-Christmas option for 2-year-olds in the past couple of years.

Maher and training partner Eustace, with their base at Warwick Farm, are particularly well-placed to travel horses between Melbourne and Sydney and with that in mind, Mithen said Rosemont felt it was an ideal target for the filly.

“He offers a training base in both states that is ultra-professional and ultra-skilful and has got the right ingredients to make it happen. Clearly, the 2-year old results in both Sydney and Melbourne are no fluke and he plans on building on that, which is a bit scary for the other 2-year-old trainers out there,” Mithen said.

Sneaky Five backed up her dominant win at The Valley and proved too strong in the Golden Gift, with Regan Bayliss giving her a perfect ride.

“She has clearly got an inordinate amount of ability and we’re shuddering to think what she might be able to do the older she gets with that experience. Given she’s out of an Oaks winner (Small Minds), it might even be over a trip,” Mithen said.

“The pleasing thing for our point of view is that’s he hasn’t been put to the sword in the spring to make it all happen. She has just been going through her gears and now she is first qualified for the Slipper and we can map a plan.”

Mithen said a decision will be made this week as to whether Sneaky Five stays in Sydney and heads towards the Golden Slipper through a race like the R. Listed Inglis Millennium, or comes back to Victoria to be prepared for the G1 Blue Diamond S.

Mithen and his brother-in-law Nigel Austin are also aware of the long-term racing and breeding prospects for Sneaky Five and see strong comparisons between her and another Fastnet Rock filly, the G1 Kennedy Oaks winner Personal.

“After Personal came out and won the Oaks, I did say to Nigel that there’s a little bit of Sneaky Five profile about this. Personal was able to run second in a Blue Diamond and was able to train on and be second in a Thousand Guineas and win an Oaks,” he said.

“Sneaky Five is an up and about 2-year-old who is regally bred and looks like a Thousand Guineas horse. It’s a bit exciting where this can take you but that’s what Fastnet Rock can get you. We have supported him for a long time and think he has done an amazing job.”

The success of the spring has certainly created a strong vibe around the operation during what has been an uncertain time with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdowns, especially in Victoria.

“It feels like the awareness of Rosemont in the wider racing and breeding community is as strong as it has ever been and hopefully it doesn’t slow down,” Mithen said.

“We have invested and had a go and want to make Victoria shape up to those Hunter Valley farms. We want to say to people, how about Victoria as an option and Rosemont sits fairly and squarely in the middle of that.”