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New Zealand Sires on the Rise: O'Reilly

Just how good is Waikato Stud's young sire O'Reilly?

If we look simply at numbers of stakeswinners his performance is comparable to that of his fellow third-crop sires Woodborough and Pentire. Yet his 2002 fee of $15,000 is considerably higher than these horses command and he is one of the few stallions in New Zealand this season whose book has been advertised as full. Why?

The answer lies partly in the quality and location of O'Reilly's stakeswinners. From his first crop he has left Final Destination, a dual Group One winner in New Zealand, and The Big Chill, who won a stakes race at Flemington during Melbourne Cup week last spring. Last weekend his second crop daughter Rare Insight won the AJC Stan Fox S. G2 for three-year-olds at Randwick. Melbourne, Sydney and two of New Zealand's major race-meetings are highly desirable places for young sires to come up with black-type winners.

Not that this has happened entirely by chance. O'Reilly, himself a dual Group One winner and BMW New Zealand Horse of the Year in 1997, was bred and raced by Waikato Stud's Garry Chittick. The stud's commitment to O'Reilly, strong client base and high profile in the marketplace have given the son of Last Tycoon and Courtza excellent opportunities of which he has made very good use.

His first four crops number 76, 69, 56 and 74 live foals respectively, and in 2001 he covered 158 mares. The quality of his books may be illustrated by his three stakeswinners. Final Destination is from a mare by Sound Reason out of Victorian Group 2 winner Society Bay; The Big Chill's dam Icy Calm is a Melbourne stakeswinner by Western Symphony; and Rare Insight is out of a winning, Group-placed daughter of Centaine from the family of G3 The Fatz and stakeswinners Urbane, La Rose Noir Giorgio and Pomcelle. O'Reilly also had 37 yearlings from his first three crops offered at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale – enough to give him fair exposure to the industry's most influential buyers.

O'Reilly's yearling sale averages have been remarkably consistent and represent healthy returns on his service fee which was held at $7,500 until this year: $52,035 in 2000; $50,100 a year later; and $58,653 in 2002. Although Australian buyers have purchased O'Reilly's yearlings each year, New Zealand trainers have sought them actively too, in many cases re-selling them offshore - hence O'Reilly's fine record in Hong Kong (three winners from four starters) and Singapore (five starters for three winners). He recently had six winners in four countries within a week, and then added two more stakes performers when three-year-old fillies Mighty Myrtle and The Jewel ran second and third in the CJC Canterbury Belle S. LR at Riccarton Park.

Like many young New Zealand-based sires, O'Reilly's record has been affected by a significant number of male progeny exported to countries with fewer black-type opportunities. A successful performer in Hong Kong will certainly help to build a sire's profile in that market, but has less impact on New Zealand broodmare owners and Australian trainers and agents. However, this is gradually changing, and O'Reilly's remaining female progeny are more than making up for their brothers' absence. It was unfortunate for O'Reilly that Final Destination's three-year-old season was truncated by on-and-off sale negotiations, but it's to be hoped that her eventual sale to the United States will pay off for him as well as her new owners.

Other statistics worth examination when considering the record of O'Reily's first two crops are winners-to-foals (28%) and winners-to-starters (56%), both figures considerably better than those of Pentire, Mellifont or Woodborough. However, Woodborough has better figures for SW-to-starters (4.9%) and SW-to-winners (13.6%); Pentire's progeny are likely to improve his record as more of them run over middle distances; and Mellifont can be expected to take advantage of the better mares his success may bring him.

The doubling of O'Reilly's service fee was a bold move in a year when many New Zealand breeders took a bath at the sales, but has been justified by his full book which is as good a measure as any of breeders' confidence that an O'Reilly yearling will be a sought-after commodity in 2005. With three stakeswinners, including two Group winners, and seven other stakes performers from fewer than 80 starters to date, the signs are positive that the customers will be proven right.

Information sources:
Arion Pedigrees
Ozhorse
NZTBA Stallion Registers


- Susan Archer