Hours before Australia’s Ash Barty clinched victory in the women’s singles final at Wimbledon on Saturday, another female representing the country shone on the European sporting stage, as Daisy Peers carried the distinctive red colours of Rosemont Stud in Victoria to an impressive success in the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden over 5½f at Navan.
The two-year-old filly – trained by Fozzy Stack for her owner and breeder, Rosemont Stud principal Anthony Mithen – was making her third start after finishing placed in 7f contests at Roscommon and Leopardstown. She appeared to flourish for a drop in trip, making smooth headway and streaking clear under Joey Sheridan to score by three lengths.
Daisy Peers, a daughter of Ballylinch Stud-based Prix du Jockey Club winner New Bay, was in-utero when her dam Dumfriesshire, a daughter of champions Oasis Dream and Banks Hill, was bought by Mithen from the Juddmonte draft at the Tattersalls December Mares’ Sale of 2018 for 65,000gns.
Mithen, who was a bit groggy talking from Australia on Sunday morning after “staying up late to watch the Barty party on TV”, takes up the tale.
“Dumfriesshire was among a crop of mares we bought in Europe that year, along with Sayyedati Symphony, who became the dam of Mehdaayih,” he says. “We foaled down the pregnant mares in Europe, and covered them to southern-hemisphere time up there, one to Frankel, and two to Lope De Vega, before bringing them to Australia.
“Would you believe, the two in foal to Lope De Vega, including Dumfriesshire, slipped their pregnancies on the way down? So we had rotten luck there.
“Anyway, we usually sell the foals left in Europe through Anthony Rogers at Airlie Stud. He does the majority of my work up there and has been an absolute blessing giving us his time. His expertise and professionalism are second to none, and he can always be relied upon to put us onto the right horse. He always liked Daisy Peers, and would text me videos saying that while she wasn’t the biggest, she had a lovely shape and walked out very purposefully.
“So we held her back for the yearling sales, but then COVID-19 intervened and the Goffs Autumn Sale she was entered in was held online, which obviously wasn’t ideal. We were looking for €30,000 for her and ended up buying her in at that price, but we were offered something like €27,000 for her afterwards. However, when she was vetted they found a small throat infection and so the buyers passed up the sale.”
Mithen, a former television sports reporter, is nothing if not enterprising. He famously bought a 5% share in Starspangledbanner from one of the sprinting star’s original owners who had declined to sell her share when Coolmore bought him for big money, and he later stood the son of Choisir at Rosemont Stud when he was found to be subfertile in his early years as a stallion. So he was undeterred when the sale of Daisy Peers did not exactly go to plan.
“I think Anthony felt a bit guilty about not selling Daisy Peers for me,” says Mithen. “But I said don’t worry: put the guilt to one side, let’s get the colours organised and get busy racing her. I’m in it for the sport and was happy to give her a spin around, and so Anthony recommended we send her to Fozzy Stack.
“I met Fozzy at a broodmare sale a few years ago, we had a pint together and he seemed like a nice sort of guy, so it made sense. He’s been terrific at managing a horse with owners on the other side of the world in a totally different time frame, and we’ve had some good conversations. We caught up on Friday night before she ran and had a good yak.”
Stack also happens to have an affinity with Starspangledbanner, having sent out his progeny Aloha Star, Castle Star and Hermana Estrella to win two-year-old Group races in the last couple of seasons. “He’s probably second in the Starspangledbanner fan club behind me,” laughs Mithen.
He adds that the filly was named Daisy Peers in honour of another great Australian sporting female and her teammates, as his daughter Lily is a professional Australian Rules footballer who plays for Melbourne alongside the celebrated Daisy Pearce. “It’s a play on words, as I didn’t want to get in trouble with my Lily by naming the filly after just her teammate, so with ‘Peers’ I’m recognising the whole team.”
Mithen explains that he intends to leave future plans for Daisy Peers to the trainer, saying: “She seems to have bags of speed and guts, and a big ticker. I’m always a blue-sky optimist with plenty of grand plans, so I was happy when Fozzy suggested first that we should find a little stakes race somewhere and give her a shot at getting some black type.
“I’ve bought four mares now from that family. It’s one I just love to breed from in Australia as it’s so progressive and seems to produce a new stakes winner every week. Hopefully Daisy can add to that on her next start or two.”
Mithen has indeed done well to get hold of four mares from this fabulous Juddmonte family, with Banks Hill of course being a multiple Gr.1 winner, the dam of a Gr.1 winner in Romantica and a half-sister to four other Gr.1 winners in Cacique, Champs Elysees, Heat Haze and Intercontinental, as well as the frequently Gr.1-placed Dansili.
The three European-sourced relations to Dumfriesshire also in Rosemont Stud’s paddocks are Bellwether, a daughter of Three Valleys and Heat Haze; Rare Virtue, a daughter of Empire Maker and Heat Haze; and Silent Entrance, a daughter of Beat Hollow and Arrive, who is a full-sister to Banks Hill and her siblings’ exceptional dam Hasili.
Dumfriesshire is currently in foal to Too Darn Hot, like Daisy Peers’ sire New Bay a top-class son of Dubawi, having been covered by him at Darley’s Kelvinside facility in New South Wales.
“I quite like the idea of bringing these European families to Australia and breeding them to some of those European shuttle stallions that Darley and Coolmore often present to us,” says Mithen. “It’s giving you half a chance to sell the produce back to European clients at the big Magic Millions and Inglis Easter yearling sales.”
Mithen’s eye for a canny European breeding-stock purchase was showcased this week not only by the exciting Daisy Peers but also by another two-year-old winner in Little Miss Dynamo, who broke her maiden for Tom Dascombe at Ripon on Monday. She is by Starspangledbanner out of Frankly So, an unraced Frankel three-parts sister to stakes winners Curtain Call, Launched and Nature Spirits bought for €88,000 at the Goffs November Mares’ Sale in 2018.
“We’ve bred two two-year-old winners in Britain and Ireland in a week out of that little crop of mares we picked up in 2018, so I’m feeling a bit proud of myself!” says Mithen, who is understandably chomping at the bit to get back up to Europe to buy more mares in the near future.
“I’ve always enjoyed broodmare sales, and my friends laugh at me for sitting in the ring from start to finish watching every horse go through,” he adds. “I like to think of those auctions as a pot of candy, and you’ve just got to pick the lollies that you like.
“I suffered withdrawal symptoms not being able to get to Europe last year due to COVID-19, though I still bought five with Anthony’s help – two dry and three who were pregnant and produced foals by Blue Point, Camelot and Exceed And Excel.