Mills Aiming for Double Guineas Success

Last year, Robbie Mills of RMM Bloodstock brought one horse to the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up Sale and scored a dream pinhooking result. A year on and that same filly, now known as Naomi Lapaglia (GB) (Awtaad {Ire}), is an intended starter in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas after winning her sole run at two. The dream continues.

But before Mills can look forward to next Sunday on the Rowley Mile, he first has another four breezers to put through their paces for the Guineas Sale on Thursday. The quartet is shaping up nicely just a short hack away from where they will be asked to perform the first proper test of their young lives during Wednesday’s gallop session. RMM Bloodstock is based at Bill O’Gorman’s Seven Springs stable on Newmarket’s Hamilton Road, meaning that the consignor has only to have his horses ridden straight onto the Heath that they have come to know well in recent months. 

He is understandably proud of Naomi Lapaglia, who races for Ed Babington and Phil Cunningham and is trained locally by Richard Spencer.

“Richard said she did a nice piece of work at the Rowley Mile last week and she will go straight to the Guineas,” he says.

Bred by Shadwell, Naomi Lapaglia had been selected by the pinhooker from the operation’s reduction of stock at the Tattersalls December Yearling Sale for just 2,000gns. Five months later, she was knocked down at 110,000gns to Cunningham, with an extra boost coming when her half-sister Rogue Millennium (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), similarly let go relatively cheaply by Shadwell, won impressively on debut four days before the breeze-up sale. She went on to win the Lingfield Oaks Trial and finish seventh in the Oaks for Tom Clover.

“It was a hot race,” Mills recalls of Rogue Millennium’s debut. “So that really helped  the two-year-old, it just put the icing on the cake really, going into the sale. And she did a solid breeze.”

Mills is by no means a newcomer to the breeze-up circuit, but this will be the largest draft he has brought to sale so far. The consigning part of his business, along with breaking and pre-training and some bloodstock agency work, is an area which he is planning to expand.

“Over the last few years we’ve always had a few to breeze, but then we’ve either sold them before the sale or the owners have changed their mind. A few years ago, I bought Pocket The Profit as a yearling, and Ed Babington bought him off me privately,” he adds.

The four-year-old Pocket The Profit (GB) (Mayson {GB}), a 10,000gns yearling, has now won six of his 22 starts, earning a rating of 90.

“We also buy some for Qatar, we know some trainers over there,” he says. “This year we won the Guineas and we were fourth in the Derby with a horse called Conflict, who we bought from Andrew Balding.

“We’ve got good team of people, so we’re going to try and do some yearling prep this summer and angle more towards consigning. With the horses is in training as well, with staff shortages it’s better for the trainers to ask someone else to do it.  It’s something that we’re going to build on and we’ve got a few yearlings already on the books to come. We’re lucky to have the most beautiful yard and we’re just building every year now.”

Mills is also planning to build on his good contacts in America, where he spent four years as a track rider and was assistant trainer to Michelle Nihei in Florida. 

“I went all over really, from Gulfstream, up to New York, Saratoga, and California to Hollywood Park, when it was open, and Santa Anita. Then I came back here and was riding out, and RMM Bloodstock has been going about eight years now.

“It’s working, anyhow, because we’re having winners after they’ve breezed, we’ve made horses from 10 and 12,000 into 40,000 the last couple of years. And then obviously last year was pretty exceptional, turning 2,000 into 110,000,” he recalls.

“I just scratched my head all winter, I still couldn’t believe that I bought her for 2,000 because I couldn’t really find a lot wrong with her. Luckily everything just went perfectly in the prep. We knew she had a lot of ability, and she won first time out.”

Mills’s own skills as a former track rider have been called upon by American trainers visiting the UK for Royal Ascot. He rode the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome in all his exercise in Newmarket during the spring of 2015, and more recently he partnered with Bucchero, who was fifth in the King’s Stand in 2018 and is managed by Harlan Malter of Ironhorse Racing Stable. 

“I bought Harlan a filly called Improvise (Fr), who was the Queen’s last runner before she died,” he notes. Bucchero has made a good start as a stallion and this year we’ve been discussing with Harlan about trying to get some to bring here to breeze.”

In the meantime, the RMM Bloodstock draft heading to Tattersalls next week consists of three colts and a filly by stallions a little closer to home and Mills has drawn extra encouragement from events at Doncaster on Tuesday. Among the group is a colt by young Darley stallion Harry Angel (Ire) and a filly by Cheveley Park Stud’s Twilight Son (GB), the same two stallions who provided the top colt and top filly at the Goffs UK Breeze-up Sale.

“I try not to buy a horse just for the sake of having a breezer,” says Mills. “The Guineas Sale has always been good to us and in this year’s draft there’s four really nice horses.

“The Harry Angel, he speaks for himself when he comes out of his stable. Through the winter we’ve had to go easy on him really, because he’s grown a lot and has been  immature physically, but now he’s just come right for us for the sale, which is nice of him.”

Offered as lot 345, the colt is a grandson of a filly who had plenty of top-level experience of the Rowley Mile: Natagora (Fr) (Divine Light {Jpn}), winner of the 1,000 Guineas and the G1 Cheveley Park S.

“I think he’s a horse with a lot of ability,” Mills adds. “And again, with the Kessaar colt, he’s grown and matured a lot and he really goes well. He’s got a good brain on him, which means you’re halfway there, especially with the breeze-up horses.”

The colt by Kessaar (Ire) is a half-brother to treble winner Hurry Up Hedley (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) and will be sold at lot 294. The consignment also contains a Time Test (GB) colt whose family was seen to good effect on Saturday through the good Newbury maiden winner Klondike (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), whose grand-dam Kithanga (Ire) is the third dam of lot 316.

Mills continues, “Our Time Test is another solid, good-bodied colt and we’re expecting them to do good breezes this year. The Twilight Son filly is extremely sharp.”

He adds, “I try, obviously, to buy a good-looking horse, a solid horse. And you want a sire and that’ll stand out so they don’t get a line put through them, just in the index, when people open their catalogue. 

“We’re lucky that, with the results we’ve been having, Tattersalls have supported us and given us spots to fill and we’re taking them there to sell. 

“We haven’t got to travel too far. It’s a great warm-up from here over to [the Rowley Mile], so if we’ve got the advantage, we’ll use it.”


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