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Waikato Stud, Ron and Fran Dixon combine for an exciting win

Photo:  NZTM website
Photo: NZTM website

Waikato Stud's champion sire O'Reilly is showing no signs of slowing down and is continuing year after year to produce stakes winners.

Hera (ex Corsica), the winner of the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellers Great Northern Foal Stakes for two-year-olds, is his 15th stakes winner this season, and brings his total to 66.

He has left five three-year-old stakes winners this season including the Group One winners Shamexpress (ex Volksrose) and Sacred Falls (ex Iguazu's Girl) and the fillies Emerald Queen (ex Scarlet Queen), Keyarna Blue (ex Oh Blue Angel [AUS]) and High Fashion (ex Pin High). Shamexpress is now headed to Royal Ascot to race in the Group One Kings Stand.

Hera –the Greek goddess of woman and marriage, is raced by NZTBA Wellington Branch member Ron Dixon and his wife Fran, and is trained for them by Roger James.

James purchased Hera at the New Zealand Bloodstock Select Sale in 2012 from Waikato Stud, for $28,000. A few months later Waikato Stud then sold the dam Corsica, in foal to No Excuse Needed, for $1000 to Rosella Farms in New South Wales.

"I can't be right all the time," quipped Garry Chittick when the NZTBA caught up with him this week while on the Gold Coast to attend the Magic Millions Sales.

"Each year we cull mares and sell a good number of weanlings and it works for us. Last year she was one of the mares who made the cut to be sold."

"We did the same this year - sold a large number of weanlings and mares, and there are bound to be some stakes winners amongst them. The weanling market here (at the Gold Coast) is very strong and I would say that the New Zealanders have only bought half the number of weanlings they did last year.

"After the Sydney Easter sale and this sale I think, if you are looking for value, you need to look at the sales at home in New Zealand.

"Getting back to Corsica she was a plain mare by Centaine (AUS). I bought her mother Crash Course from Keith Gudsell as it was a family I quite liked and wanted to get into. I bred River Chant out of her and she won six races including a Listed race (Tauranga Classic) for Geoff Levick and he has bred a couple of winners out of her."

Crash Course is by Voyager (USA) out of Miamian (USA), she is a half sister to the Rapier II (GB) stallion Reingard who won nine races, and to the dams of the
Group One winners Ballroom Babe (Citidancer [IRE] –Taimian), Dandy Andy (Three Legs [GB]-Reeanna) and to the dams of Balmaressa (Balmerino – Sky Eyes) and McGuane (McGinty – Our Kathleen). Ballroom Babe went on to leave three stakes winners - Just Dancing (Fusaichi Pegasus [USA]), Tahni Girl (Redoute's Choice [AUS]) and the successful stallion Hidden Dragon (Danehill [IRE]). Tahni Girl has also left the Group Three winner Maschino and McQuardt (Sharmadal –Centrofold Angel) also descends from this family.

Chittick is attending the sales in Queensland to drum up business for the big band of stallions at Waikato Stud this year, including the two new boys on the block, Ocean Park and Rock'N Pop.

"The response to O'Reilly, Savabeel (AUS), Pins (AUS) and Ocean Park is very good. Breeders are booking in two and three mares to each of these stallions. Ocean Park aside, the big three - O'Reilly, Savabeel and Pins - always book out early. It's the lesser stallions that we have to market and the bookings for them carry on into the breeding season.

"After all, there is not a lot of choice when it comes to proven stallions these days, especially for professional breeders. There is no such thing as a full book with a horse like O'Reilly. Now that he is getting older we just keep serving them while he is doing the job, last year he served 170 mares.

"We are very excited about standing Ocean Park. He has had a lot of support from breeders and has a great syndicate behind him - they are all genuine breeders. It was a remarkably successful syndicate and all done in one day, in fact we had 108% of him sold and graciously his original owners gave us a little more of their share so no one was disappointed.

"He is due back in New Zealand in a couple of days and we hope that he will be ensconced at Waikato Stud within a week. He has had three weeks quarantine in Australia and three weeks in England before he left so it will be great to get him home and settled into a nice big paddock."


- Michelle Saba