Victorian bloodstock agent and TBV Member Sheamus Mills likes to describe it as one of those sliding door moments in life when he purchased a Written Tycoon filly out of Movie (Red Ransom) at the 2019 Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
As usual, Mills had meticulously compiled a list of around 10 fillies, rating them from A-plus to A.
The Written Tycoon filly had been given his A-plus rating and he’d pegged her price at around $350,000 to $400,000.
With clients Heath Newton (Newton Thoroughbreds Racing) and Anthony Roberts (Chesapeake Thoroughbreds) standing alongside of him, Mills put in what he thought would be his final bid on the filly at $400,000.
Going up in increments of $20,000, the auctioneer wanted a bid of $420,000 but the prospective buyer dragged it back to $410,000 which prompted to Mills to put in his last – and successful bid – of $420,000.
“It was one of those sliding door moments,” Mills said.
He walked away with the filly – Odeum.
With victory in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield on Saturday, following on from the Listed Jim Moloney Stakes a month earlier, the extra $10,000 was a wise investment.
Mills estimates that Odeum would now be worth between $3-4 million as a breeding and racing proposition and would probably fetch in the high $1 millions as a broodmare when her racing days are over.
Odeum’s dam has already produced Goodfella (Snitzel), a Listed winner of $1.1 million, and has an unraced two-year-old colt by I Am Invincible named, Video, trained at Warwick Farm by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
When it comes to selecting yearlings, Mills said he does the same process at every sale, inspects all the horses and then short lists them.
“We have a second look, third look and then what we like, maybe look at them four times and keep going back until you shuffle them down in the order,” Mills said.
“After that there’s where a bit of luck comes in once you’ve got that short list it’s the order in which they come through.
“With a sale like that we might end up with 10 or 12 fillies that we really like and then it’s the luck of the draw and you bid to what a horse is worth and it may be you buy the first horse on the list but you get beat on the first eight and then you buy the ninth horse on your list.”
Mills said that he and his clients might walk away with two or three horses from their list of ten.
“Whether we end up with two or three of the good ones out of the ten or two or three bad ones out of the ten, that’s the bit we can’t control,” he said.
“But you’d like to think if you’d done your homework properly and you’re doing this year in and year out that you’d come up with your fair share of good ones. And I’ve been very fortunate or very lucky of whatever over the past four or five years that we have finished up with more than our fair share of Stakes horses.”
Mills said he was lucky to have his clients alongside him when he did the bidding as he wouldn’t have gone to $430,000 for the filly.
He said regardless of pedigree, yearlings need to be rated at his A-plus and A physically to make his final list and the final price is then decided by pedigree or budget.
Mills said he rated Odeum’s family as “emerging.”
‘’Funny enough when I was buying her I didn’t think that,” he said.
“I actually bought her thinking her family was nice enough and there were four dams on the page and it wasn’t considered absolute blue blood.
“But in fairness what I didn’t factor in was that she had come from Newhaven Park who have a bit of the family and Johnny Kelly and the boys are very good breeders and have the ability to make families.
“Obviously Gytrash is in the second dam (Wheatland Lady) and hopefully he’ll win an Everest on Saturday. Ever since we bought Odeum, the family has emerged.”
Newton is the major owner of Odeum, with Roberts having a smaller share and Mills describing his piece of the ownership as minuscule.
Mills said while everyone had a budget, it gives him great faith when the pair tell him to bid on what he thinks is the best horse in in the sale.
“I wouldn’t have gone another bid for the filly so we have certainly got our top and we don’t charge in and it’s been refreshing to have a crack at the fillies that you rate as the best horses there,” he said.
“Heath is the majority owner of the horses we have.”
After breaking her maiden status at her first start at Moe over 1200m in August, Odeum had no luck at her next start in the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m) when she got decked by stablemate and eventual winner Night Raid, but won the Listed Jim Moloney Stakes (1400m) as the lead-up race to the Thousand Guineas.
And it was more pleasing for Mills to win the Group 1 race as he buys types he thinks can win a race like the Thousand Guineas rather than something that might win a Golden Slipper.
He said to see Odeum’s development from her maiden win at Moe, both physically and mentally, had been remarkable under the guidance of Caulfield trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr.
Mills said he got his start in the business through working for Price and his only client when he went out on his own was Melbourne breeder Robert Harding.
“He bought and raced Gallica and she was Mick’s last Thousand Guineas winner (2008) so there was a real synergy about that race with Mick winning the race twice, once for Robert Harding and once for me, given the three of us go back 20 plus years.”
And as for Written Tycoon, Mills believes the stallion has been slightly overlooked in the yearling sale market.
“If you want to buy a nice Written Tycoon, you can buy them for $300,000 or $400,000 but if you want to buy a nice Snitzel or I Am Invincible, you need to pay $800,000,” he said.
Winning trainer Price was quick to congratulate Mills after the race.
“We sat in that dungy old office 20 years ago and have been working together for years and years and years,” Price said.
“He’s been putting up with me, dragging him in here on Saturday mornings to clock horses. It’s great now that he’s logged onto a Group 1 filly.”
Price said Mills does a lot of hard work and is a smart man.