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Star Kingdom – Profile of a Champion
|Star Kingdom would go down in history as the most influential sire of Australian racing with only the recent champion Danehill being thought of with the same respect. Star Kingdom however stood at stud when a book of 60 was considered large and a stallion might get 40-45 to the racetrack where as nowadays a champion stallion might have 30 or more offerings at one major yearling sale from a book of well over 100 mares. This is the story of the rejected colt that was to sire his own dynasty which still holds an influence in Australian racing to this day nearly 60 years after he was foaled. At Cloghran Stud in Ireland the colt that would become Star Kingdom was foaled on April 30 1946 and his breeder Richard Ball was far from impressed with his appearance. On the advice of his staff the breeder left the colt and within a few weeks he grew into a strong foal. He was a member of the fifth crop of the Hyperion stallion Stardust who was considered a very average sire in the United Kingdom yet his sire sons did well in Australia. The dam of Star Kingdom was the Concerto mare Impromptu who was unraced and only produced three foals before dying when only a 9yo. The other foals were Dark Stranger a gelding who won over the jumps and an unraced mare called Minute Waltz.Star Kingdom was offered at the Doncaster sales in September 1947 and purchased for 3100 guineas by Wilfred Harvey. He was named Star King and entered the stables of JC Waugh and showed ability in trackwork.
Star King’s first start was in a 2yo Maiden over 5 furlongs at Salisbury in April 1948 and as a short priced favourite he raced away from the opposition to win by 10 lengths. Two weeks later he raced away again winning the Sandown Park Produce Stakes over 5 furlongs by five lengths. Another three weeks later Star King again streeted the 21 other runners winning the Sorrell Stakes at Hurst Park by five lengths.
A short let up followed before he lined up against the other standout 2yo colt in Abernant in the 5 furlong National Breeders Produce Stakes. Star King jumped to the front and led Abernant by three lengths within 200m. Abernant soon closed the gap and took over racing clear past the 400m. Star King started to rally and chased Abernant though the colts were wide apart. Abernant led but Star King was rapidly overhauling him and as they hit the line they crossed together with the judge left to decide the winner. The photo finish had not yet evolved and the judge awarded the race to Abernant despite many including Star King’s jockey being certain the chestnut colt had been in front past the post. Star King backed up ten days later in the Richmond Stakes over 6 furlongs and again defeated his opposition but not as brilliantly as on previous occasions with only a length to spare. His final start as a 2yo was in the Gimcrack Stakes over 6 furlongs at York. Star King raced to the front early and stayed there passing the post three lengths ahead of Makarpura (who was to also head to stud in Australia).
Returning as a 3yo Star King was aimed at the classic races. First up he raced away for an easy win in the Greenham Stakes over 7 furlongs and headed to the 2000 Guineas over 1 mile at Newmarket. Connections were confident that he’d handle the undulating surface and sharp rise to the post but in a disappointing result as Nimbus held out Abernant in a photo Star King was well back finishing 10th in a field of 13. Vets found nothing amiss and 5 weeks later Star King lined up in the Jersey Stakes over 7 furlongs at Ascot. Fighting to the line Star King kept his nose in front to win from Moondust with Krakatao third. Star King then went to a race well known in recent years to Australians the July Cup run over the straight course with the steep run to the line. The race only attracted a filed of three with Abernant and Combined Operations taking on the chestnut colt. Again Star King’s connections met with disappointment as Abernant raced to an easy win from Combined Operations with Star King last of the three. A break of six weeks followed before Star King lined up in the Hungerford Stakes over 7 furlongs with his only opponent Arc-en-Ciel. In a return to form Star King won the race hard held by 1 1/2 lengths. With that Star King was heading for stud but racehorse owner Clifford Leigh thought the horse could add to his record as a 4yo and purchased the chestnut.
Now trained by Fred Templemen Star King made his 4yo debut in the Coronation Stakes over 5 furlongs at Chester in May and stormed home to win from Combined Operations with a further three lengths to Fair Fallow. He then stepped up to a mile in the Rous Memorial Stakes at Ascot but sent out as favourite he could only manage fourth of the 6 runners. Less than two weeks later he was unplaced behind Abernant in the July Cup before a two month spell. Over 7 furlongs in the Hungerford Stakes he was narrowly defeated by Hyperbole in a field of three and then 9 days later he had his final start. Over 6 furlongs Star King finished last in a field of 6 in the Union Stakes at Birmingham Soon after Star King was purchased by Stanley Wootton for 6000 pounds and was on his way to Australia.