The international breeding fraternity was saddened last week by the passing of renowned owner-breeder Lady Chryss O’Reilly.
Owner of Haras de la Louviere in Normandy, as well as a former owner of Castlemartin Stud in Ireland, she passed away in France at the age of 73.
Her death came in the same week she had sold the €200,000 sale-topper at Arqana’s v2 sale, and featured as the breeder of the previous weekend’s Gr2 winners Witch Hunter (Hungerford Stakes) and Vespertilio (Debutante Stakes).
Over the past five decades, Lady O’Reilly owned breeding and racing stock on four continents and pursued her passion by breeding in partnerships as well as under her own banners of Skymarc Farm and Petra Bloodstock Agency.
Her notable successes include 1996 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Helissio, as well as the Gr1 winners Priolo, Helissio, Highest Honor, Lawman, Latice, Le Glorieux, Lacovia, Bluemamba, Chinese White and Lightening Pearl. The Gr1 winning fillies Rebelline and Voleuse De Couers were both yearling purchases and raced in her colours, as did the successful sire Verglas.
Remarkably, as an owner/breeder, she also tasted success in South Africa with the Mike de Kock-trained filly Festival Of Fire and the colt Meet At MalaMala, which she raced and bred in partnership with the late Chris Saunders.
Festival Of Fire, a smart daughter of Kahal, performed with aplomb, winning them six races, which included the Gr2 Fillies Guineas, the Gr3 Joburg Spring Filly and Mare Challenge and Gr3 Starling Stakes. In addition, she was twice Gr1-placed when runner-up in both the Empress Club Stakes and SA Fillies Sprint.
Lady O’Reilly kept Festival Of Fire as a broodmare and raced her progeny with more than a measure of success, two of which being black-type performers trained by De Kock. Her first foal, the aptly-named Var colt Dewali, finished third in the Gr3 Protea Stakes, while Flower Alley daughter Red Hot Rose contested last season’s Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery off a maiden win and ran out of her skin for second, beaten a longhead by none other than champion Mrs Geriatrix.
One can but speculate how good a racehorse Meet At MalaMala would have been, had a tendon injury not limited his career to just nine starts.
Unraced at two, the imposing son of Western Winter made a winning debut when he cantered home at Hollywoodbets Scottsville to defeat future Post Merchants winner Shark Bay over 1200m.
Thrown into the deep end in just his second start, the colt promptly earned his spurs with a gutsy neck defeat of another future stakes winner, Fenerbahce, in the Listed Secretaritat Stakes at Turffontein. In his final start, the four-year-old ran the race of his life to finish third to Aslan in a blanket finish to the Gr1 Sansui Summer Cup, the margins being a head and a shorthead.
Born Chryssanthie Jane Goulandris in the United States, Lady ‘Reilly was a daughter of John Goulandris and Maria Lemos, two members of Greek shipping dynasties.
She grew up in New York and was introduced to horses by her uncle, Constantine Peter Goulandris, from whom she took over Haras de la Louviere. Eventually she bought out her relatives and ran it in her own name.
She married former Irish international rugby player and business magnate Sir Tony O’Reilly in 1991 and the couple owned Castlemartin Stud until 2014. Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita and the globetrotting Gr1 winner Joshua Tree (a close relative of Drakenstein Stud’s outstanding Gr1 winner Inara), were both bred at the historic Irish Stud.
Lady O’Reilly was also a long-serving board member and former chair of the Irish National Stud. Her considerable achievements were rewarded with an induction into the ITBA Hall of Fame in 2013.