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Waikato Stud heads owner-breeder success at Hastings

Waikato Stud continued its tremendous run of success in Group One company when Legs (Pins-River Century by Centaine) and Kerry O'Reilly (O'Reilly-Pegarah by Grosvenor) filled the first two placings in the $1 million HBRI Kelt Capital-sponsored Ormond Memorial S. 2040m G1, held in near-perfect Hawke's Bay spring weather on Saturday.

Waikato Stud 2001 Ltd bred and races Legs, and stands both Pins and O'Reilly. Garry Chittick has won the New Zealand Breeder of the Year title for the past two years, and last season was responsible for four Group One winners: Starcraft, Glamour Puss, Marju Snip and Legs, who took out the WRC New Zealand Oaks G1.

Trained at Waverley by Kevin Gray, and ridden by Lisa Cropp, Legs has now won five of her eleven starts and $859,275. She, Love Dance (1996), Cinder Bella (2001) and Prized Gem (2002) are the only mares that have won the Ormond Memorial since Kelt Capital took up the sponsorship in 1991. Legs is the only four-year-old mare to win the race since its inaugural running in 1920. This year's result was also a triumph for owner-breeders, responsible for seven of the 15 starters, including the first three home. Kerry O'Reilly is raced by his breeders Geoff Klippel, Gary Rice & NZTBA member Eddie Tynan, and third placegetter Seachange was bred by her owner Dick Karreman (Karreman Bloodstock Ltd), also a member of the NZTBA.

Legs is from a family the Chitticks have owned for three decades. Garry bought her third dam, Sun Priestess (Sabaean-Napoli), in 1976 and bred two fillies from her, Vlonka (Super Gray) and Riverlette (Sir Godfrey). Riverlette proved the better broodmare, and a spectacular match for champion sire Centaine, leaving six winners to him, including G2 Arletty, G3 Firetaine, GP Spillway and SP River Century. Her winning daughter by Sound Reason, Fifteen Reasons added G1 Sixty Seconds and G3 Spotswoode to Centaine's stud record.

River Century was sold as a yearling for $45,000 to Ray Thomsen who raced her in Australia and then sold her to Roy and Shirley Potter of Wellfield Lodge. The Potters sold her yearling colts by Danewin and Desert Prince before exiting the business in 2002, and selling River Century, carrying Legs, among a package of mares to Waikato Stud. Lisa Chittick says, "We'd ended up without any fillies from the family so were eager to get back into it."

The mare's next foal, a colt by O'Reilly named Guyno, has won in Western Australia after being sold from Courtza Park, Waikato Stud's breaking and pre-training division. (As it happens, Garry and Mary Chittick were holidaying with his enthusiastic owners when Legs won the Oaks in January.) River Century's yearling filly by Pins will probably be retained by Waikato Stud and she is due to foal to Savabeel this month.

The Australasian taproot mare for this family is the famous Teppo (GB) foaled in 1908 and imported to Victoria two years later by Mr E.E. D. Clarke. Other Group One winners among her modern descendants are Luskin Star, River Rough, Lygon Arms, Mannerism and Straussbrook. The Sun Priestess branch is descended from Teppo's great-grand-daughter Mit Muzzle, imported to New Zealand by Bob Stead more than sixty years ago. Legs, who only began her racing career in December last year, will now head to Australia, but is unlikely to start in the Cox Plate.


- Susan Archer