Mills Reveals his hand in Vow and Declare

Vow And Declare ridden by Craig Williams wins the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on November 05, 2019 in Flemington, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Victorian bloodstock agent and TBV Member Sheamus Mills has revealed his involvement in the success of Vow and Declare in the Melbourne Cup.

The well-known agent is an adviser to Vow and Declare’s breeder and part owner, Paul Lanskey, on his small breeding operations.

Mills said Lanskey has always had a couple of mares he breeds from and still owns Vow and Declare’s dam, Geblitzt, which is in foal to American Pharoah who won the American Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2012.

Lanskey also raced Geblitzt, who is by Testa Rossa, and she won five races from 1200m to 1400m.

“Paul has always had one, two or at most up  to three mares and I have advised on the matings for him and so on, including Declaration of War,” Mills said.

“Once the foals are born I just manage them in terms of what sales they are going to go to and what to sell and what to keep and all that sort of stuff.  We tried to sell Vow and Declare but thankfully he didn’t sell.

“You certainly need a bit of luck. It worked out well that when he didn’t sell as he was syndicated among mates, including Geoff Corrigan who is also a client of mine. It’s great that he is racing for a group of mates and clients.”

Presentations to connections of Vow And Declare after winning the Lexus Melbourne Cup , at Flemington Racecourse on November 05, 2019 in Flemington, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Vow and Declare was passed in as yearling for $45,000 off a $60,000 reserve at the 2017 Inglis Classic Sales in Sydney. Declaration of War was a shuttled to Australia in 2014.

Vow and Declare’s trainer Danny O’Brien bought the Cup winner’s half-brother, Lycurgus, for $70,000 at the 2015 Easter Yearling Sales and was impressed he was by Star Witness who he had trained to victory in the Group 1 Blue Diamond in 2010.

O’Brien then sold the yearling back to Lanskey, Corrigan and the Livingstones, the Knipes and the Heustons.

“Lycurgus has been a nice horse and has won a few hundred thousand and a stakes race over a mile and a half,” Mills said.

“It was surprising that Star Witness would produce a mile and a half horse in Lycurgus. We then put the mare, Geblitzt,  in foal to Magic Albert but then decided to go Declaration of War because he would be complimentary to her if that was what she was going to produce (stayers).

“Hence the reason why I came up with Declaration of War.

“She is a beautiful quality mare but she is quite short backed and a little bit pot gutted and her first two foals were like that so the mating was to try to produce a racehorse because we thought she needed a bit more size and length to match her physique. We came up with a mile horse.”

Mills said O’Brien knew he had a stayer with Vow and Declare but was interested in what the genetics would reveal and DNA samples sent to Ireland for testing confirmed he would be superior at 2400m and beyond.

“It was suggested the further he went the better and he would be an elite stayer, hence the reason why his third start in his life was at 2000m,” Mills said.

“I suppose from Danny’s point of view, rather than messing about, he trained him right like a stayer from the start when the DNA confirmed he would be elite at a distance.”

Mills said Geblitzt has a full yearling sister to Lycurgus and she’ll be offered for sale at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in January.

But from a breeding prospective, Mills said this second foal to Star Witness is nothing like her full brother Lycurgus.

“The fact that she is going to the Magic Millions is that she is a really sharp, early going, looking two year-old filly which I guess is what we thought we were producing in the first place,’’ he said.

“She has a filly at foal by Shalaa and is in foal to American Pharoah.”

Mills said it had been great to have been taken along for the ride with Lanskey and Corrigan who had been good friends and clients.