The story behind a horse called Flyer

7 min read
Every winner means something to someone, stakes wins all the more so - and the story is bigger again when an owner and breeder has multiple connections to a horse going back years; such as the case with Rosemont Stud's Anthony Mithen and last weekend's G3 David Coles AM S. winner Flyer (Exceedance).

Cover image courtesy of Vinery Stud

This is a story which goes back a few years, to when trainer Mark Young spied a nice looking son of Secret Savings (USA) at the 2005 Gold Coast Magic Millions. The horse was passed in with a reserve of $50,000 but he stayed in Young's mind.

And was still there a few months later when the chestnut reappeared in the Inglis Autumn Yearling Sale, Young - along with Nigel Austin and Anthony Mithen - confident that they could have another crack at this horse for a lesser price.

And that proved to be the case, $29,000 securing the horse who would go on to race as Secret Flyer, winning 11 of his 49 starts - two Listed races and over $540,000 in stakes.

An important horse

“He was an important horse for us,” Mithen recalled - “we'd had stakes winners but not a horse like him who consistently campaigned at that level.”

And what a lot of fun he was, Mithen remembering the day that Secret Flyer started amongst the favourites in the 2009 G1 Newmarket H. won by Scenic Blast (Scenic {Ire}). He wasn't in the placings but that wasn't going to stop his owners having a good time.

“In true Mithen and Austin style we made the most of having a Newmarket chance,” Mithen laughed - “We hired a party bus, took a bunch of mates with us and had a great day at Flemington!”

Secret Flyer | Image courtesy of Sportpix

Ongoing foot issues hindered Secret Flyer's career but he remained a particular favourite and the Rosemont team went back for more of his dam - at the 2010 Inglis Premier laying down $235,000 to buy his half-brother Hell's Kitchen (Choisir).

“I remember out-bidding Gai Waterhouse for him,” Mithen said, adding that “he did not quite live up to his price tag but he was stakes placed for us.”

They had also, the year before, purchased a Bel Esprit filly out of Secret Flyer's dam Lanadee (Snaadee {USA}) for the considerably lesser price of $25,000.

Anthony Mithen | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

“She had a bad knee which was not going to stand up to racing but there was no way that were not going to breed from her so she joined the Rosemont family.”

Named Rosemont Flyer, she produced five foals for Rosemont and all ended up being winners with a filly by the stud's own Toorak Toff the one with the most ability.

She was taken to the 2016 Magic Millions with Mithen convincing trainer Jason Warren - with who they'd always had a horse or two - to take her on, remaining in the ownership after she fetched $40,000.

First two foals both stakes winners

Consistent and more than handy, Miss Toorak Flyer won four of her 14 starts, also finishing in the placings in metropolitan company on six occasions.

Upon her retirement in 2019, she headed back to Rosemont where Starspangledbanner - who had called that stud home during his many sojourns - was chosen as her first mate, the classy Treasurway foaled in 2020.

Retained to race by Rosemont along with one of the racing owners of Miss Toorak Flyer in Brett Charman, the Jason Warren trained Treasurway won the G3 Breeders S. at Morphettville last year.

Toorak Toff | Image courtesy of Rosemont Stud

A big fan of Exceed And Excel, Mithen had made enquiries at Vinery Stud in regards to the possibility of buying into the G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Exceedance - only to be told that there were none available.

But, shortly after that bay began serving mares, the stud's Peter Orton was in touch - he had advised one part owner to sell half his share as he didn't have enough mares to support the young stallion.

And so Rosemont got into the horse Mithen had had his eye on, able to support him in 2021 with Miss Toorak Flyer.

“Consistent and more than handy, Miss Toorak Flyer won four of her 14 starts, also finishing in the placings in metropolitan company on six occasions.”

The result of that mating is Flyer who last Saturday put her class on display recording a smart win in the G3 David Coles AM S. at Morphettville.

A meaningful victory

“It was certainly a win that means a lot to us,” Mithen said, describing the welcome that awaited Flyer when she returned to the farm for a spell this week.

“We had the staff form a guard of honour for her and she was clapped back into the stables!” he laughed.

Showing how well the business of breeding and racing horses can be mixed with emotion and sentiment, Mithen in 2014 wanted to provide his business partner, brother-in-law and great mate Nigel Austin with a unique birthday present.

And so he tracked down this family's matriarch Lanadee. A mare whose progeny and grand children Rosemont had enjoyed so many good times with.

Finding her retired as a nanny at Eliza Park, he approached her owners to offer her another nanny position at Rosemont - something planned as a surprise for Austin.

But when picking Lanadee up he was impressed with how well she looked, having her vetted and discovering that she was in perfect shape to have another foal. After seeking the approval of her owners, Mithen had her served by Toorak Toff - all the time keeping her out of Austin's sight.

A surprise birthday gift

Which made for a very nice moment when he drove her to Austin's backyard and presented her to him on his birthday.

“He didn't know who she was!” Mithen said, still taking joy from the moment when he said “this is Lanadee, and she is in foal to Toorak Toff.”

Christened Our Secret Sister, that filly did not make it to the track but Rosemont are delighted to have her as part of the broodmare band - and she is rewarding them nicely; her second foal City Thunder (Starspangledbanner) second at his Flemington debut before selling for a tidy sum to Hong Kong whilst his full brother was purchased by George Moore for $425,000 at last year's Magic Millions.

Nigel Austin | Image courtesy of Aushorse

Also the dam of a $60,000 Hanseatic colt sold to Lisa Latta at this year's Magic Millions, Our Secret Sister foaled an Extreme Warrior colt last spring and is in foal to Starspangledbanner.

Meanwhile her three-quarter sister Miss Toorak Flyer is also doing the family proud not only on the track but in the sales ring with her third foal - an Exceed And Excel colt - purchased by Suman Hedge, Waterhouse and Bott and Kestrel Thoroughbreds for $650,000 at this year's Magic Millions.

Remaining in the ownership, Mithen was pleased when Suman Hedge - the advisor for the stud's Rosemont Alliance - was so taken by the colt.

Lot 962 - Exceed And Excel x Miss Toorak Flyer (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

“I had actually said to Suman that we should not buy him for the alliance as he is a rig - so I was surprised when I saw him bidding; he went rogue on me and bought him for other owners!”

Happy to still be involved in the horse, Mithen is also pleased with the start the Rosemont Alliance has made. A syndicate formed with the strategy of securing well related colts in the hope that they become viable stallion prospects, it has been purchasing a dozen horses a year for each of the last three years.

“Mithen is also pleased with the start the Rosemont Alliance has made. A syndicate formed with the strategy of securing well related colts in the hope that they become viable stallion prospects, it has been purchasing a dozen horses a year for each of the last three years.”

Hoping to gain one stallion prospect each year, the group already have one debuting at Rosemont this year - Snitzel's G2 Caulfield Sprint winning son Doull. And Mithen is looking forward to upcoming Queensland campaigns for members of their second group of purchases - such as the last start G3 Hawkesbury Guineas winner Schwarz (Zoustar) and the G2 VRC Sires Produce S. placegetter Bosustow (Blue Point {Ire}).

“We are humming along nicely,” Mithen said, happy with the three stakes winning 2-year-olds from the first group of purchases.

Rosemont Stud