Through Dave Di SommaNews desk harness
Former Blackcap Kyle Mills and his buddies have had huge peaks with their “Cyclone” breed of racehorses — and they’re far from done.
“We’ve been in Group One and Group Two and had a great run,” Mills says.
Over the past ten years, the syndicate (Kyle, his brother Heath, as well as former All Black halfback Ant Strachan and Mark Lyon and former trainer Gareth Dixon) has bred, owned, raced and sold horses all of which go back to their stock mare Eyre To the Throne.
“We’re just trying to get enough money to keep it all going,” says Mills.
The last example is Cyclone Charlotte. the three year old Bettor’s Delight filly has been to the races twice, winning on trainer-driver Tony Herlihy’s debut and finishing close-up third on March 24, also at Cambridge. Now she has been sold to Perth.
“She has always shown some ability and so far she has lived up to her breeding.”
And the racing genes are definitely in the Mills family. Kyle Mills says he and his brother had “no chance” of not being involved in racing. Their parents were deeply involved in the sport. They met at the Village Farm stables in Takanini when Father Terry was a groomsman. Their mother Carole was the daughter of Charlie Morrison, a longtime starter at both Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. His brother Ken Morrison was also a successful trainer in the 1950s and 1970s.
“We spent a lot of weekends at Graham Reaks in Pukekohe, that’s how we spent our childhood,” says Mills.
Village Farm would later be acquired by Bruce Wallace, who trained galloper Hit The Bit for Kyle and Terry Mills. Hit The Bit had five wins from 130 starts, finishing his career in the South Island in 2014-15.
Kyle’s interest in racing was for many years a welcome side effect of the rigors of the international sport.
He took 327 wickets in all three formats for the Blackcaps, and was the world’s top-ranked ODI bowler in 2009. He retired in 2015.
Today, the 43-year-old father of three has a few business interests in sports field development, media and cricket (he was a bowling coach for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League), as well as his involvement in racing.
The quest for breeding began when the syndicate bought Eyre To The Throne from Ian Dobson (Christian Cullen fame). She had won three out of five on the Tasman in 2008-09.
She was initially served by Mach Threewith the first two offspring Cyclone Prince and Cyclone Kate.
Trained by Gareth Dixon, Cyclone Prince was “a real horse” winning four for 24, including the 2013 Group One Cardigan Bay/Young Guns 2YO Final, before Cyclone Kate became a champion performer, winning 21 times on both sides of the Tasman, including wins and placements at group and scholarship level.
Cyclone Kate had a best mileage of 1:50.3.
On her retirement in 2017, Mills said: “She has given us an amazing ride from the time she first raced as an early 2 year old (Jan 24, 2014) to her last win at Menangle last week. (July 1, 2017)”
While Cyclone Charlotte will do its future race in Western Australia, the name “Cyclone” will live on in this country as well. Cyclone Kate was served by Bettor’s Delight last October, making the foal a full sibling to Cyclone Charlotte.
She also had two Art Major foals, a filly and a colt. One went to this year’s NZB Standardbred Yearling Sales in Karaka. The bay filly, groomed by Hollis and Robertson Equine Services, was sold to a Queensland buyer for $32,000.
“Actually, we expected more, in the $70-80,000 range and we would have gotten more had she sold after Cyclone Charlotte’s victory in Cambridge,” said Mills.
And the 17-year-old Eyre To The Throne is still breeding. She is in foal to Captain Crunch. She also produced a Vincent filly (foal 2019) who is with trainer Zachary Butcher and has to qualify for this preparation.
The Cyclone breed shows no signs of running out of fluff, while Cyclone Charlotte is now tasked with living up to the family name over the Tasman.