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John O'Brien's Group Win

NZTBA Councillor John O'Brien could be excused for revelling in the glory of breeding the Group Two DHL Counties Cup winner Gallions Reach as he is in the Stud Book as the official breeder but in actual fact he can't take the credit for the mating.

"I actually purchased the mare Dorinka in foal to Victory Dance at the Grangewilliam dispersal sale – so the credit for the mating should go to John Corcoran," according to the Central Region Councillor, Veterinarian and Proprietor of Newmarket Lodge Stud.

"I bought Dorinka because she was by Straight Strike and I was keen to get my hands on a Straight Strike mare and at that stage she had left a couple of minor winners.
Gallions Reach was a cracking individual from the time he was born and developed into a nice yearling – he should have sold for more than $30,000 - in fact there was some mumblings from buyers about the horse being knocked down too soon and talk of disputed bids at the time."

Unfortunately for John he didn't get the opportunity to breed another colt out of Dorinka and make amends for the sale blunder. She left two fillies to Sakura Seeking and died shortly after foaling the second one.

"I am not in the business of selling yearling fillies at the sales, so the first one went through the mixed bloodstock sale at Wanganui and the second one I sold out of the paddock. So two lucky owners now have a half sister to a multiple group winner who is also Group One placed."

Gallions Reach has now won eight races including the DHL Counties Cup, the Group Three Lindauer Special Reserve Vintage 2004 Stakes, and the Group Three Hooker Pacific Taranaki Cup. He has also run second in the Group One Stella Artois Auckland Cup, and the Listed Marton Cup, and Rotorua Stakes, and has won nearly $500,000 in stakes.

Dorinka won five races up to 1400 metres in the South Island and left two other winners in Dorinka More and Prince Dorinka, she is out of the imported Brigadier Gerard mare Brandish, who left six winners.

Gallions Reach is not the first stakes winner that John has raised.

"I purchased the dam of Our Maizcay, Maire Vita when she was in foal with him, and reared him as well – she had only one more foal after him. The same year Our Maizcay was born I bred Princeton Bay and he won 16 races including the Gore and Dunedin Guineas – so officially he is the only stakes winner I have bred."

Princeton Bay was by Kingdom Bay – who was bred by John's father Jack and stood at Sovereign Lodge in Ohau.

"Unfortunately I can't claim to have been involved in the breeding of any of the good horses that Dad (Jack) bred like Snap, and Kingdom Bay but I can say that Dad's involvement in racing certainly helped shape my career as a vet.

"By the time I was finishing school he had established Sovereign Lodge and I had quite a lot of contact with the horses. After I graduated I worked for Colin Hayes for three years at Lindsay Park when it was at the forefront of the industry, in the days of Beldale Ball and Dulcify et al.

"As part of my succession plan – when I am too old and grumpy to do vet work - my elder son is just finishing his first year at vet school and he can take over from me.
My nephew Mark Lindsay is following the family passion as well and is now working at Eliza Park in Victoria."

Mark was the recipient of the 2007 Sunline Scholarship from the Auckland Branch of the NZTBA.

In the meantime though, it is business as usual for the veterinarian and proprietor of Newmarket Lodge in Palmerston North, which is home to around 140 mares and two stallions Gold Centre (Danehill – Circles of Gold) a brother to Elvstroem and half brother to Haradasun, and Colombia ( Zabeel –Eight Carat).

Both stallions have been relatively well supported this season with Gold Centre serving around 85 mares, approximately the same as he did in his first season last year.

"There has been plenty of interest in Gold Centre and we have 12 nice yearlings to sell by him at Karaka this year. We are quite excited about his prospects. Columbia has the bloodlines and has had some good results so he continues to get a reasonably good book," commented John.

These days John's vet work is mainly specialising in purchase work. He covers an area from New Plymouth in the west and Hawkes Bay in the east, south to Wellington, where he inspects horses being sold overseas.

"I would say that I would inspect around 150 horses a year which are sold out of racing stables either as trial or race winners. It's a bit of double edged sword really - it's a shame that we lose so many potentially good horses but I know that the return from the sales does go back into breeding or racing another horse," he added.

"I have a passion for this industry and I am certainly interested in trying to advance it and who knows maybe I will soon be rewarded with a group winner from a mating I have planned!"


- Michelle Saba