Brave colt on course for Blue Diamond

Of the Brave lived up to his name with a courageous victory in the G3 Blue Diamond Colts Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

The son of Starspangledbanner was running on empty in the final furlong but dug deep to defeat Godolphin youngsters Pride of Dubai (Street Cry) and Sampeah (Exceed and Excel).

“He was vulnerable first-up and I said if he was going to get beaten, today would be the day,” trainer Mark Riley said.   “That was a hard run and it will top him off nicely and he’s going into the Blue Diamond on the way up.  He’s potentially the best I’ve ever trained and is just an absolute natural racehorse.”

Bought for $170,000 at the 2014 Gold Coast Magic Millions, Of the Brave gave Starspangledbanner the perfect start to his Australian stud career in the LR Debutant Stakes in October.  He is a three-quarter brother to Group 3 winning filly Eloping (Choisir).

Of the Brave is the $5.50 second favourite for the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes on February 28 behind Fontiton ($2.80).  “I don’t think Fontiton has got as much improvement in her that Of the Brave has,” trainer Mark Riley said.  “I’m sure of that after watching how the filly pulled up and knowing what Robert (Smerdon) had done with her going into the race.”

Starspangledbanner stands at Rosemont Stud after encountering fertility problems at Coolmore Stud in Australia and Ireland.  His first northern hemisphere crop comprised 33 foals and included 10 juvenile winners topped by The Wow Signal (G1 Prix Morny) and Anthem Alexander (G2 Queen Mary Stakes).

Starspangledbanner did not shuttle back Coolmore Ireland this year, however, Rosemont owner Anthony Mithen announced he would cover to northern time for a $27,500 fee.