Hollylodge Stud owner Christine Mills speaks from experience when she commends the upcoming TBV stallion nomination auction at Oaklands Junction on August 22.
Back in 2010, Peter Mills had his mares boarding at the old Hollylodge in Avenel and asked Chris for advice about a stallion for his Mossman mare Alice’s Restaurant.
“I looked up several matchings on my Tesio program and found that she had a very high match-up score to Al Samer who was standing at Emirates Park,” Chris recalled. “I advised Peter to put in a bid for the stallion through the then TBV stallion tender scheme and his offer of $4,500 was successful.”
Alice’s Restaurant foaled a lovely bay colt at Hollylodge in 2011 and he was subsequent named Al’s Kitchen. “Peter was so impressed with the colt that he bred the mare back to Al Samer,” Chris said. “She produced a filly now named My Kitchen Rules.”
Al’s Kitchen spent his first few months growing at Hollylodge and was then taken up to Peter’s farm at Finley just over the border in NSW. “He was the only foal on the property and loved all the attention. He’s a plain bay with a little white star on his head and carries himself with confidence – he was king of the paddock up there.
“We missed the deadline for Super VOBIS and the VOBIS Gold. I kept pushing Peter to register but he was reluctant. He reckoned if the horse was any good, he would win races anyway.”
Fast-forward a couple of years – Peter and Christine married and purchased a new property for Hollylodge at Avenel that would accommodate all their horses.
Because the fencing was not ready, Al’s Kitchen was sent next door at Milford Thoroughbreds and was then broken-in at Princess Park in Nagambie.
Peter and Chris sent him to Flemington to be trained by Mat Ellerton and Simon Zahra and they were impressed with his nature and willingness to do things.
They gave him a couple of educational runs at Moe and Geelong before going to Wangaratta for a VOBIS Gold race on the Anzac Day weekend. “We went up to watch him but our hearts sank when he settled last. That wasn’t the plan – he was supposed to sit forward or midfield at least.”
Nevertheless, Al has the final say when he pushed through the pack and flew home to win by four lengths. “We were over the moon with excitement,” Chris explained. “We had a racehorse and a two year-old at that.”
Ellerton and Zahra then set him for a sprint on home turf at Flemington but constant rain had connections wondering whether he could handle a Slow 6 surface. After settling at the back of the field, he burst through late and was only beaten a long-neck at headquarters.
“We were looking forward to bringing him back as a three year-old but an agent rang to see if we would sell him to Hong Kong,” Chris said. “Al was like our child but it was a good offer and now he will race on the world stage.
“He well and truly paid for himself and we had a lot of fun along the way. Naturally, we will miss him but at least we will be able to watch him on TV or go up to Hong Kong if he runs in a big race.
“And it all goes back to that investment through the TBV Stallion Tender scheme.”
Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria will auction 6 stallion nominations before the Inglis August Sale at Oaklands Junction on Friday, August 22.
They have been catalogued as Lots 79 to 84 and the proceeds will help support the Victorian breeding industry. The following 6 stallion nominations have been donated by their owners for the TBV auction;
1 EQUIANO – Swettenham Stud
2 FIORENTE – Eliza Park International
3 HELMET – Darley Victoria
4 STARSPANGLEDBANNER – Rosemont Stud
5 UNENCUMBERED – Three Bridges Thoroughbreds
6 WRITTEN TYCOON – Woodside Park Stud
Christine Mills gives the gelding a good-bye cuddle at Hollylodge Stud