Top NZ Stallion Dies

"He's been a good horse for us but also a very good horse for New Zealand."

O 'ReillyChampion stallion O’Reilly has died and Waikato Stud are mourning his passing.

Waikato Stud staff awoke on Wednesday to find the stallion dead in his paddock, most likely from a heart attack.

Bred and raced by Waikato Stud, O’Reilly forged a career as a brilliant sprinter-miler, winning four of his six starts, including the Gr1 Bayer Classic and the Gr1 Telegraph in four unbeaten starts in New Zealand.

Retired to stud with a career-ending suspensory ligament injury, O’Reilly was quick to make his mark as a sire, leaving Gr.1 1000 Guineas winners Final Destination and The Jewel in his first two seasons.

Since then he has gone on to sire 79 stakes winners, placing him third on the all-time New Zealand list, behind Zabeel and Sir Tristram, with a string of top-class performers to his credit, among them Sacred Falls, Silent Achiever and Alamosa.

“He’s been a wonderful story. He’s been a great friend to us. He’s been a lovely horse to have around – a great mate,” Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick said.

“He’s been a good horse for us but also a very good horse for New Zealand.”

O’Reilly was buried on Wednesday morning alongside the likes of Centaine, Pompeii Court and Lady Aloof.

By Last Tycoon out of Golden Slipper winner Courtza, O’Reilly was a weanling at Waikato Stud when the Chittick family bought the farm as a going concern in 1994.

He was prepared for sale but later withdrawn and raced in Waikato Stud ownership with a view to developing him as a stallion prospect, which his Group One wins ensured would happen.

There was plenty of big offers to buy O’Reilly but Garry Chittick said the family would be forever grateful that he remained in Waikato Stud ownership.

New Zealand racehorse of the year in 1996-97, O’Reilly has three times won each of New Zealand’s three stallion awards, for the last two years sweeping all three – the Grosvenor Award for domestic stakes earnings, the Dewar Stallion Trophy for Australasian earnings and the Centaine Award for global earnings. He has also won the Hong Kong sires’ title.

“He’s been an exceptional sire. His progeny have won Newmarkets to Caulfield Cups, Doncasters, Derbys and Oaks. He produces extraordinary racehorses,” Chittick said.

“We got him as part of Waikato Stud when colonial-bred stallions weren’t necessarily the flavour of the month. I’d been looking for stallions in Europe and I came home and said to Mark ‘we should be keeping this horse’ and I’m sure glad now we did.

“He’s got sons at stud now and we’ve got Sacred Falls coming to us at the start of next season so the timing of that couldn’t be much better. And his fillies and mares are doing the job. This season there’s already been five Group One winners out of O’Reilly mares.

“He’s got 79 stakes winners and he could get close to 100 by the time his last crops have finished racing.”

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