The Chittick family and the team at Waikato Stud are in mourning after the shock loss of their best mate and emerging young stallion, Sacred Falls.
The Waikato Stud veterinary team identified an issue with the stallion’s liver just on a fortnight ago and despite receiving world-class treatment at both the Stud and then at Matamata Veterinary Services equine hospital, his condition deteriorated overnight and he passed away early on Sunday morning.
The son of Waikato Stud’s champion sire O’Reilly was in his fifth season of stallion duties after retiring to the Matamata nursery following a storied career on the track, where he numbered four Group One victories amongst nine wins including the Gr.1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) on two occasions.
Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick was devastated with the loss of not only a potential world-class stallion but also a horse that held a special place in the hearts of the Chittick family.
“It’s been a very tough morning for all the team here as he (Sacred Falls) has been such a cool horse to be involved with,” Chittick said.
“He had a wonderful temperament and a really engaging personality and all the staff here just love him.
“He meant a lot to us all, especially as he had played such a big part in our lives during some very tough times.”
Chittick was referring to both the loss of Sacred Fall’s sire, O’Reilly and the passing of his first wife Lisa, who succumbed to leukaemia in May 2014.
“When Lisa was sick and receiving treatment, Sacred Falls brought plenty of joy for us when he won the Doncaster Handicap in 2013 and again in 2014,” he said.
“When O’Reilly died, Sacred Falls had just arrived at the Stud so it was like the torch had been passed from father to son so he was a very special horse for us all.
“I have nothing but praise for our head vet, Dr Chris Phillips, his team and all the staff at Matamata Vet Services as they did everything in their power to try and save the horse but it just wasn’t to be.”
Sacred Falls will return home to Waikato Stud where he will be buried next to O’Reilly, with the Chittick family currently determining an appropriate tribute to their fallen mate.
Bred and sold by Waikato Stud as a yearling, Sacred Falls won his first six races including the Gr.1 New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (1600m) in the care of Cambridge trainer Tony Pike for owners Raffles Racing.
Waikato Stud subsequently secured equity in the homebred colt who added a further three Group One victories in Australia when transferred to champion trainer Chris Waller.
With his eldest progeny just three, Sacred Falls has left six winners to date including the highly-talented filly Shoshone for Ken and Bev Kelso.
A total of 42 yearlings by the emerging stallion will be offered at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales in late January, while his progeny sold up to $260,000 at the recent Ready To Run Sale of 2YOs. – NZ Racing Desk