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Dirk and Nicki have plenty to celebrate

Buffalo Man (above) - Photo NZ Stallion Register
Buffalo Man (above)

Photo NZ Stallion Register

Northland stud-master Dirk Oberholster, couldn't be more happy with the way things are shaping up for his stallion Buffalo Man (CAN) (El Prado [IRE]-Perfect Six[USA]).

Buffalo Man commenced stud duties at Totara Park just outside Whangarei in 2010 and his oldest progeny, now two-year-olds, are starting to make their name on the track.

When contacted by the NZTBA after the win of Buffalo Boy at Te Rapa recently, Oberholster was his usual exuberant self, enthusing about his young El Prado (Sadler's Wells [IRE]- Lady Capulet[USA]) stallion.

"Look, we needed another shot in the arm - we knew he had a lot of potential, and Buffalo Boy's win has given us that shot.

"The horse is not bred to be a two-year-old sire. Sadler's Wells line stallions traditionally don't leave two-year-olds. Buffalo Man was a good two-year-old himself, and his sire was a Champion two-year-old in Ireland, but he had a good temperament, and I liked that about him when I purchased him for stud.

"He leaves horses with a good temperament and I think that helps them mentally and that is what actually enables them to race and trial as two-year-olds - more that they are mentally capable of coping as opposed to being physically capable. I am a little surprised at how well he has done with his two-year-olds though."

In fact Buffalo Man has had three individual two-year-old winners - Buffalo Boy, Hurunui and Buffalo Lass. Buffalo Boy and Hurunui have each won two races and Buffalo Lass also ran in the third in the first two-year-old race of the season. Buffalo Boy has gone to the paddock for a short break and will be aimed at the early three-year-old classics, and Hurunui, who managed a fourth in the Listed Welcome Stakes at Riccarton, has subsequently been sold to Singapore.

Unlike some Sadler's Wells line stallions who don't mind wet tracks, Oberholster is confident that the stock of Buffalo Man will be best on top of the ground.

"Most of them won't go a yard in the mud. Buffalo Man couldn't run on ground with even a spit on it and his stock seem to be like that. Take for example Buffalo Boy - he failed in the Castletown Stakes on a puggy track and then on a better track at Te Rapa won easily, beating a field that was of a similar quality to the Castletown. Sacred Falls won that particular two-year-old race a couple of years ago. Once we get into the spring I am sure we will see a lot of the youngsters come out as three-year-olds and perform well," he enthused.

Fellow first season sires Tavistock, and Swiss Ace (AUS), have also each left three individual winners, and Mastercraftsman (IRE) has left two, while his barn mate Thewayyourare (IRE) leads the tally with four. Thewayyouare, Mastercraftsman and Tavistock have each left a stakes winner.

"I have gone through the history books and not many first season sires in recent years have left a lot of winners, and if you compare apples with apples this year, with the other first season sires, some of them would have had mares of much higher quality probably than what Buffalo Man has had.

"We have always supported him with the best mares we could and sent all our mares to him in the first couple of seasons and I am happy with the numbers that he got in the two years after that. We have a good loyal clientele here in the north."

Buffalo Man's first winners are testament to that. Buffalo Boy is out of the unraced Savabeel (AUS) mare Club Queen and Hurunui is out of a Danehill Dancer(AUS) mare Gore Bay (AUS) both of which are owned by Totara Park Stud. Buffalo Lass was bred by Dargaville local Brian Dally out of his Al Akbar mare Lady Express. Both Lady Express and Gore Bay have left runners by Rusty Spur (USA)(West by West[USA]- Goodbye Heart[USA]) a close relative of Buffalo Man who previously stood at Totara Park.

Club Queen had a year off after Buffalo Boy but now has a colt weanling by Buffalo Man and is in foal to him again. Gore Bay has a rising two-year-old brother who sold for $8,000 at the Festival sale at Karaka last summer and is back in foal to him again and Lady Express is also carrying another Buffalo Man foal.

Totara Park was established in the early 1960's by breeding enthusiast Les Donaldson and during the 1970's he began importing stallions and mares. One of those stallions was Bandmaster II (IRE) whom he mated with a Talismano (ITY) mare Tusitala, which was owned by his mother, to produce the champion three-year-old Uncle Remus. Also from this farm, Bandmaster II left the good stakes performers Caruba and Regal Band.

In more recent years Vain Ana, Gold Strike and Little Recruit – the dam of Clangalang – have been bred by Donaldson, and now the passion for breeding has been passed on to his daughter Nicki and her South Africian born husband Dirk.

They are hoping that some of the many Buffalo Man progeny they have bred and sold will soon add to that honour roll.

"Really for the first two years we have tried to sell them and get them into the best stables. We didn't get a lot of money for them but we got them into good stables, and they were bought by some good judges. We felt it was better to spend the money on producing foals rather than racing horses as the racing industry is so tight at the moment.

"We did keep a small share in Kolaman who has been placed at two. He is out of the Group Two winning mare Mirkola Lass, and is trained by Kenny and Lisa Rae who raced that mare."

Not surprisingly Oberholster is looking forward to the new season and reports that there has been quite a bit of interest in Buffalo Man.

"Look, it is surprising we don't normally get a lot of early bookings up here in the north, but I have already got 10 outside bookings on top of what has happened this year," he said and proudly stated, "I am still bullish about my stallion and I wouldn't swap him for any other first season stallion at this stage."


- Michelle Saba