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Big month for Waikato Stud

Garry and Mark Chittick - Photo NZTM website
Garry and Mark Chittick

Photo NZTM website

February 8 2014 will go down in the history books at Waikato Stud as a special day. It was the second day of the Waikato Racing Club's Carnival of Racing and featured the Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes, won by Costume (Savabeel-Disguise), the Group One NRM Sprint won by Viadana (Towkay- Yeah Nah by Kinjite) and the Group Two Sir Tristram Fillies Classic won by Hera (O'Reilly- Corsica).

Costume and Hera were bred by Garry Chittick the now 'retired' Waikato Stud boss, as was Kinjite (Centaine [AUS] – Wenona Girl [AUS]) before he stood at that stud. Costume is raced by Chittick also a former New Zealand Racing Board Chairman, who was mentored by the late racing identity Herbie Dyke. For good measure, Sports Illustrated, a three-year-old No Excuse Needed (AUS) filly out of the Pins (AUS) mare Pinup, won the Rating 65 1400 metre event also in the famous Waikato Stud colours of white with the emerald green and blue stylised Waikato Stud logo and striped sleeves.

"I do try with a lot," quipped Chittick when congratulated on his multiple successes, "but yes, it was lovely. Costume is a mare I've always had confidence in. Things didn't go her way as a three-year-old and fairly often we send them off to stud after that but we decided to give her another chance.

"Deb has done a great job with her while she has still been growing. We will have a crack at the Group One (New Zealand Stakes) weight-for-age over the Cup Carnival and see what happens from there. There is not much for her to race in or against, and as long as our luck holds out we will push on.

"It was a big jump from a rating 75 win to a second in a Group One handicap, then a win in a Group One weight-for-age. If you had said to me six weeks ago that she would be a Group One weight-for-age winner by now I would have told you not to be so silly," he said.

Six weeks ago Costume was still only the winner of three races. She won a maiden as a three-year-old in December 2012, but didn't win another race until October last year, and then again November. In late January she won a rating 75 handicap 1600 at Trentham, and a week later carrying just 52 kilograms was beaten by another lightly weighted four-year-old mare, A Touch of Ruby (Pins[AUS]-Syrah), in the Group One Thorndon Mile.

"I am thrilled for Debbie she has always maintained she was a good horse. She took her off Rogie to train her herself. There is a bit of rivalry there between those two. She does an excellent job. Six weeks ago it was a bit beyond our expectations, but Debbie never wavered - she was confident she could win."

According to Chittick Costume was a small yearling and was passed in at the Premier Sale for $25,000.

"A well-known bloodstock agent emailed me on Saturday night and said he must be a bad judge as he wrote in his book that she was too offset to ever race. She's not offset at all, you have to wonder what yearling buyers are looking for sometimes!

"You never know how they are going to develop. You often see smaller, less mature yearlings but they all seem to grow into average-sized race horses. You get hammered at the sales if they aren't big. None of our good fillies have been big - Legs is 15.1, Daffodil is 15.3, they have less soundness issues if they are not too big.

Costume is the sixth foal and the fourth winner out of the O'Reilly mare Disguised, who is out of the French bred mare Liffey(FR). She in turn is an unraced half-sister to the successful stallion Godswalk (USA)(Dancer's Image [USA] – Kate's Intent[USA]) himself a winner of the Group One Kings Stand. Liffey is the dam of Liffey Lace (USA) (Sagace [FR]), a stakes winner in Europe, and grandam of the stakes performers Tres Sheik, Kisses and Master Regent. She has also left Prince Daldeerby (Dahar[USA]), a stakes placed winner of nine races, and Lidahya the unraced dam of the Listed winner Anne Carina.

"Disguised had already left some nice horses by the time she went to Savabeel. She left Masquerade who won a Soliloquy Stakes for Brent Cooper's Auckland Racing Club syndicate. She is a lovely type of mare.

"Liffey, her mother, was part of the package of mares that were owned by Waikato Stud when we bought it. Gordon Cunningham was here then. We brought our mares up and combined them with the mares here and we ended up with about 100. We put our heads together and decided to cull that back to 80. Well 17 of the 20 we culled went on to leave stakes winners, so since then we have a policy of never selling everything, we always keep at least one filly from every family. So as a result of that, from Liffey we kept Disguised," Chittick said.

Thankfully after to sticking to that policy, Waikato Stud still have a full sister to the other star of Te Rapa Hera. The three-year-old daughter of O'Reilly has now had 11 starts for five wins –including the Group Two Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, the Group Two Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic and the Listed Great Northern Foal Stakes. As well, she has been placed second in two Listed events.

"Roger (James) liked Hera right from the word go and was even raving about her just after she was broken in. Fortunately we kept a full sister to Hera, as we sold her mother Corsica for $1000 a couple of years back."
Corsica has since produced a filly by No Excuse Needed and died in Australia last month.

"We bred Corsica out of Crash Course who we had purchased from Keith Gudsell. It was one of those strong families that Keith produced good horses from. They were plain headed horses but good horses like Australian Cup winner Dandy Andy (11 wins) and the stakes winners Reingard, and Balmeressa who both won nine races and the champion filly Ballroom Babe, and she left horses like Hidden Dragon. Crash Course is also the dam of River Chant (Danasinga) who won the Listed Tauranga Classic.

"It was a great win. She set herself up to get beaten, and I thought the other O'Reilly filly might just get to her, but she didn't. It was nice to see O'Reilly get the quinella even though we didn't breed Spellbinder. He is a very very good stallion and deserves to be on top of the sires' premierships. Danny O'Brien has had a Newmarket winner by him, a Derby winner by him and a Caulfield Cup winner by him, that's Group One winners from 1200 metres to 2400. That's a testament of a good stallion. Every year he leaves 12 – 14 stakes winners, and in both sexes. We send 40 mares a year to him and at the moment we are hoping they all produce fillies.

O'Reilly broodmares are performing really well as is evidenced by the broodmare stallion statistics where he is the leading sire. O'Reilly broodmares crossed with Savabeel has amazing statistics. He has left three stakes winning mares this season; Costume, Diademe and Chintz; and previously the stakes winners Nandowra and Kudakulari.

O'Reilly also heads the New Zealand sires' premiership and leads the Dewar Award for the sire with the most combined earnings in New Zealand and Australia, and the Centaine Award for the sire whose New Zealand conceived progeny have accumulated the highest stake earnings world wide.

Savabeel and Pins sit behind O'Reilly in second and third places on both those premierships and Savabeel is in third place on the New Zealand premiership behind Darci Brahma.

"O'Reilly certainly is dominating the premierships. Having Colonial stallions was a road we took a long time ago and there were plenty of good judges around who criticised us, but that was a road that was affordable to us. We wouldn't be able to afford horses like Ocean Park and Savabeel if we were buying them out of Europe.

"Savabeel is going really well and that is very exciting for us. The trainers like them, they are horses they can work with. They are good doers with good temperaments. Murray Baker has about eight in work and five out of the eight yearlings that Peter Moody bought at the sales were Savabeels. It's great to see Savabeel sell well and earn his credibility, there is no easy way to do that."

Waikato Stud were the leading vendor at the sales, selling 65 yearlings for an aggregate of $8,873,000, with an average of $136,508. Their top priced yearling was a Savabeel colt out of Splashing Out who fetched $500,000 to the bid of David Ellis. Five other yearlings made it into the top 20 lots at Premier and in the Select session newcomer stallion Paco Boy (IRE) leading the first season sire table with eight yearlings selling, the highest for $105,000.

"We had a great sale - we took 74 yearlings all by our own stallions and we bought five home from the Premier, four of them fillies and four from Select, with three of them fillies also so we are quite happy. If we have to bring anything home we are quite happy that they are fillies.

"When it came to the Select session we decided to give each horse a $20,000 reserve. We wanted people to know where they stood, and that we were genuinely there to sell. Some horses sold for more than we anticipated and some for considerably less, but at least people knew they were on the market. It worked pretty well really when you consider we only brought four home. We grossed over $1,200,000 at that sale," Chittick said.

With sales results like that, the future of Waikato Stud looks exciting and the famous WS brand will be appearing on race tracks around the world for a few more years to come. Who knows there could be another breeder of the year title to go with the previous five, coming along sometime soon, but in the words of Chittick who often likes to have the last say –"we are still here and a lot of people aren't."


- Michelle Saba