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Collar represents strong family ties

Pictued above, Little Avondale's Sam and Catriona Williams
Pictued above, Little Avondale's Sam and Catriona Williams

When winning the listed Doncaster Stakes at Flemington recently, Collar (O'Reilly-Laebeel) became the 50th stakes winner for his Waikato Stud based sire O'Reilly (Last Tycoon[Ire] – Courtza), an amazing feat for any stallion and quite a milestone.

However, horses have two sets of genes and looking at his female line, it's no surprise that this strapping young three-year-old has won himself black type.

Collar is the sixth foal from the stakes winning mare Laebeel (Zabeel-So Like Lae). He is her fourth winner and second stakes winner, the other being the Pentire (GB) gelding Larry's Never Late, and although he was bred by Little Avondale Trust he descends from the same Okawa family that has produced dozens of stakes winners including Froth, Horlicks, Brew, Bubble, Laelia, Swift General, Frivolous Lass, Military Plume, General Nedyim, Fiumicio et al.

According to Collar's breeder, Sam Williams of Little Avondale Stud, he was always a big gawky boy.

"As a youngster he was never going to be ready for Karaka so we gave him the extra time and took him to Sydney to sell. As a yearling he was already 16 hands on the stick. We went to O'Reilly to get some size and we sure did with this fellow.

"He was purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for Nick and Lloyd Williams for $160,000. We only took two yearlings to Sydney that year and the other was The Deep South (Darci Brahma – Southern Cry) that Mike Moroney bought for $80,000, and like Collar, he is also a possible VRC Derby contender."

Collar is trained by Robert Hickmott at Macedon and was making only his third race day appearance. He won his only start as a two-year-old last June and returned to the race track with a fourth last month before winning the Doncaster Stakes.

Harking back to the mating of Collar, the association between the Williams family and the Chittick family goes way back to the days when the Chitticks' were based in the Wairarapa.

"Mark and I are great mates and we have been involved with a lot of the stallions they have stood. We had shares in Centaine and currently have shares in Pins as well.

"So Like Lae (Marceau[AUS] – Laelia), the dam of Laebeel and her dam Laelia (Oncidium[GB]-Froth) could both leave foals a little on the small side. Laebeel herself is 16 hands but she is not robust, so it was important that we went to a stallion with size."

However, a look at Laebeel's breeding record illustrates the depth of the association with Waikato Stud. After a successful race career in Melbourne where she ran second in the Sky Heights 1999 Caulfield Cup and won seven races including the listed Matriarch Stakes, Laebeel was served by Redoute's Choice(AUS) before returning home to New Zealand.

That foal Choicely won a race in Sydney. Her next consort was Centaine (AUS) followed by Danasinga (AUS), which produced Sesotho, a winner of three races. Laebeel then went to Pentire and produced Larry's Never Late, the winner of the group three Sandown Stakes and six other races. Her next mating was back at Waikato Stud where she visited Pins and produced her first filly Pin Up Lae, before visiting O'Reilly producing Collar. Pin Up Lae has been retained by Little Avondale and races on lease in Melbourne.

"After she foaled Collar, she went back to Pins and produced a colt. He was a late November foal, and was never going to make a yearling. We kept him at home and let him grow out naturally and he will go through the ring at the Ready to Run sale at Karaka next month, through the Lyndhurst Farm draft.

"Due to the late foal we gave Laebeel a year off and by that stage Larry's Never Late had started to kick some goals so we went back to Pentire, and we now have a lovely colt foal, but unfortunately he will have the (AUS) suffix after his name as he was foaled in Australia.

"I have always felt she has needed a bit of speed so I sent her to visit Starspangledbanner this season. He is one of the most exciting sprinters to come out of Australia in recent years and the pedigree mates up well with the Danehill and Zabeel cross.

"Besides there is a long association between this family and the Corstens family. Leon was with Bart Cummings when he trained Laelia – the third dam of Collar – to win the group one Adelaide Cup and he trained So Like Lae and Laebeel. Troy was training with him when they had Starspangledbanner and he now trains Pin Up Lae at Malua Racing with John Sadler.

"Troy was always keen to get Laebeel to Starspangledbanner so we thought why not send her over there and see what happens, she will come home to foal though so the next foal can have the right suffix!"

Sam Williams's grandparents Alister and Nancy Williams of Te Parae Stud fame raced Laelia (Oncidium-Froth) who they had purchased from Okawa Stud. Alister's estate bred So Like Lae and Nancy's Laebeel.

In 1996 Te Parae's bloodstock was split between Nancy and Alister's children Tom and Buzz (Sam's father) and Tom remained on that farm farming sheep and cattle while Buzz and his family relocated to another family farm, Little Avondale.

"There were three mares that remained in joint ownership between Dad and Tom. They were Laebeel, Cent From Heaven (Centaine –Logical Miss) and Kelly Flinn (Centaine –Flight Queen). All the rest were split 50/50. Cent From Heaven left the Highview Stakes winner Eloa and Kelly Flinn is a half sister to the Metropolitan winner Dress Circle.

"After Te Parae bred Larry's Never Late I bought Tom out of those three mares, and in 2006 Catriona and I took over the ownership of Little Avondale Stud and we are looking forward to producing many more generations of stakes winners from some of these wonderful old families, some new exciting families and our great line up of stallions," he said.
Little Avondale Stud is home to the first season sire Per Incanto[USA] (Street Cry-Pappa Reale), Towkay[AUS] (Last Tycoon[Ire]-Princess Tracy[Ire]) and Zed (Zabeel- Emerald Dream[AUS]).


- Michelle Saba