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Is it such a long way from Louis Vuitton pumps to Red Band gumboots?

Photo:  Angela Williams at Te Parae with Maggie O'Reilly and her No Excuse Needed filly foal
Photo: Angela Williams at Te Parae with Maggie O'Reilly and her No Excuse Needed filly foal

There is an old saying about taking the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy – or in this case the girl, and the girl in question is Angela Williams.

Following a successful career in communications and marketing and with a new husband in tow, Angela returned home to the famous Te Parae Stud just out of Masterton last year. Simon Irving, her husband and a police sergeant, had taken a position locally and Angela swapped her glamorous corporate life to establish the old homestead as a function centre for weddings and high tea and breed and raise a few thoroughbreds.

Rural Wairarapa seems miles away from the world of Louis Vuitton where Angela was in charge of communications, but she is more than happy to be back down on the farm with the horses. As luck would have it, one of those horses is Maggie O'Reilly (O'Reilly – Habaine), the dam of the recent group three Windsor Park Taranaki Breeders' Stakes winner No Excuse Maggie (No Excuse Needed[USA]), and she has just produced another filly by No Excuse Needed.

With horses in her blood so to speak, Angela is the daughter of Tom and Gay Williams and granddaughter of Alister and Nancy Williams who established Te Parae Stud in the late 1940's. She had always owned a couple of mares but moving back to the farm has enabled her to increase her broodmare numbers to eight and breed four or five foals a year. Simon on the other hand is a fan of the harness code and has shares in a pacer, and in support of the third racing code the couple has recently adopted a greyhound as a pet to grace the grounds of Te Parae.

"Now I have more time on my hands to be able to do a lot of the work with the horses myself and keep them at home, I can afford to breed a few more. I have five foals this spring, as well as No Excuse Maggie's full sister. I have two due by Per Incanto(USA) – both out of O'Reilly mares, a Towkay(AUS) colt out of a Zabeel mare and a Zed colt out of a Towkay mare. As you can see I am supporting cousin Sam," she added in reference to four of her mares having foals by sires from her cousin Sam Williams's Little Avondale Stud.

"I purchased a couple of mares from Dad a few years ago, but I was keen to get an O'Reilly mare. I remember getting the catalogue for the 2009 Broodmare sale at Karaka and whittling down my selection to three mares. I couldn't get to the sales so I asked Sam to look at the mares for me and left it up to him.

"He selected Maggie O'Reilly in foal to No Excuse Needed and bought her for $6000 and he went over budget as well – but I forgive him now. It's funny you know, I studied that catalogue and didn't even notice she was grey – it's probably a good thing I did send Sam to inspect her as I may not have bought her. I was also interested in the Savabeel (NZ) weanling out of the mare too but couldn't afford them both. She went for $3,500."

Both the mare and her weanling were being sold by Waikato Stud, who each autumn cull their broodmare band and take a large number of weanlings to the sales that are genuine horses. The previous year they had sold No Excuse Maggie to Howard and Kay Jones for $2,500 - they are among the members of the Full of Excuses Syndicate that race the six race winner.

Mark Chittick takes up the story:

"We have sold a couple of stakes winners as weanlings and quite a few very good racehorses. We breed a lot of horses each year and can't take them all through to the yearling sales so it's a good opportunity for people to pin hook or buy into some of our families.

"Besides No Excuse Maggie, her half sister Showing Off (by Savabeel) is a pretty smart horse who has won four races, and we couldn't be more pleased for Angela especially as she now has a full sister to No Excuse Maggie.

"It was a gutsy win and the stake pushed No Excuse Needed to the head of the New Zealand Sires premiership, which is pretty cool He has had 13 winners of 16 races from 44 runners this season and nearly $271,000 in stake money. No Excuse Maggie has only won $67,000 of that so that is not a bad effort for a sire that doesn't get a lot of mares and stands for a moderate stud fee," he added.

No Excuse Needed has left 13 stakes winners including Daffodil, Justanexcuse, Vincent Mangano, and Grand Dancer, and four of his stakes winners are out of O'Reilly mares. He was also the leading sire in the 2007/2008 season.

Maggie O'Reilly is a daughter of Habaine (Centaine [AUS]) who was placed in the group three Blue Diamond Prelude, and is a sister to the listed Counties Bowl winner La Rose Noir and a half sister to the listed winner Urbane (Sir Godfrey [FR]). Maggie O'Reilly herself is a three-quarter sister to Hyades, the dam of the group three winner Tootsie.

Habaine is out of Habania, a daughter of Georgina Belle (Pakistan II[GB]- Castle Belle) - a stakes placed winner who Garry Chittick purchased after she had gone to the States. He sent her home via England and had her mated to Habat in Southern Hemisphere time.
That foal was Habania who raced in Australia and won seven and was group three placed. Habania always left nice types of horses.

Georgina Belle's first New Zealand bred foal was the Sound Reason mare Celia Leigh, and from that branch of the family Waikato Stud have produced some outstanding racehorses including Escada, Glamour Puss, Vision and Power, Escadaire, Starman, Rare Insight, Crepe De Chine, Arenti and so on.

Maggie O'Reilly was in foal to No Excuse Needed when she was purchased by Angela and subsequently foaled a colt.

"I sold the colt at the 2010 weanling sale and he made $2,800 and was bought by Berkeley Stud who on sold him as a two-year-old at the 2011 South Island Sale for $41,000 to Lisa Latta. By that stage both No Excuse Maggie and Showing Off had won races. He had his first trial this month and ran third.

"The filly foal is the first foal I have bred and I am pretty happy with her. Maggie O'Reilly has had problems with a hoof infection so I will let her get over that this year and send her off to stud for a nice early service next year.

"With Showing Off and No Excuse Maggie performing so well there is plenty to look forward to. Besides, I have plenty to keep me busy here – I even tackled some fencing the other day – you can imagine the reaction to that from my brothers not to mention my city friends and former associates," she concluded.

Which leaves the question - is it such a long way from Louis Vuitton pumps to Red Band gumboots after all?

- Michelle Saba