Starcraft’s International Group 1 Exploits Honoured

Starcraft’s trail-blazing career has been recognised with the Waikato Stud-bred star to be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame next month.

During the mid-2000s, the big chestnut gained fame in both Hemispheres, first as the champion Australian 3-year-old of 2003-04, the following year as champion sprinter in New Zealand and his defining achievement as the first New Zealand-bred horse to win at Group 1 level in Europe.

The son of Soviet Star and Flying Floozie was sold at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale to Australian Paul Makin for $80,000 and was trained by Gary Newham.

He won nine races, including three at Group 1 level before his European adventure under the guidance of Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani.

He finished third first-up in the G1 Queen Anne S. at York and then bounced back from a below-par performance in the G1 Eclipse S. to win the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in Paris and the G1 Queen Elizabeth ll S. at Newmarket.

Starcraft’s breeder and Hall of Fame member Garry Chittick has been associated with numerous champion horses, including fellow Hall of Famer O’Reilly, but Starcraft holds his own special place.

Chittick bred him from a family developed by Jack Lindsay at Balcarres Stud and acquired his dam,
the Pompeii Court mare Flying Floozie, as a weanling. A close relation to the Group 1 winners Taras
Bulba and Turfcutter, she was part of the going concern package when the Chittick family bought
Waikato Stud in 1994.

“She was a big, plain filly and we leased her out for racing to a bunch of guys, who we allowed to name her,” said Chittick in reference to the off-beat name. “She was also rather slow and the best she could manage was a single placing.

“For her first two matings she went to our own stallion Danasinga, then we decided to send her up to Ra Ora to their new shuttle horse Soviet Star. He was a decent sort of European sprinter-miler and being a son of Nureyev he wasn’t overly big, a neater type that we figured might tidy the mare up.

“What we got was still a big horse, but even though he was tall and somewhat gangly, he was a nice enough yearling when we took him to Karaka.”

Ahead of the 2002 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale, Auckland bloodstock agent Robert Dawe had been commissioned by Australian client Makin to identify some likely prospects for his growing racehorse string.

“When Paul arrived at Karaka he asked me what I had found for him,” Dawe said. “I replied that I had found him the modern day Phar Lap. ‘You are kidding me,’ he said, but honestly, I wasn’t.

“He was a big red horse, but he was also light on his feet. That’s the reason I liked him – it must have been – because I had never bought a big horse in my life. I’m not sure if Paul was on board at that stage, but it helped that his wife Lyndal was, she really liked the horse.”

At stud and after initially shuttling between the UK and Australia, standing for a number of years at Arrowfield Stud where his fee peaked at A$44,000 in 2011, he transferred to Victoria’s Rosemont Stud, where at rising 21 he remains on the stallion roster.

His 20 stakes winners include the G1 Blue Diamond S. and G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Star Witness, who was also placed in the G1 Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee S. and G1 King’s Stand S., and the dual Group 1 winner We Can Say It Now.

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