James secures slice of Waikato Stud history

Mark Chittick (left) and Dave O'Leary with the final O'Reilly colt through the Karaka sale ring.

Mark Chittick (left) and O’Reilly’s regular handler Dave O’Leary with the final O’Reilly colt through the Karaka sale ring.

Cambridge trainer Roger James was instrumental in a fitting Select Sale farewell for the champion sire O’Reilly.

In an appropriate tribute to O’Reilly’s influence on the annual NZ Bloodstock National Yearling Sale over the past two decades, the last son of the mighty stallion to grace the Karaka complex as a yearling topped the prices on the final day of the Select Session yesterday.

Offered as Lot 1097, the bay colt from Zabeel mare Toss Up strode into the auction ring under the watchful eye of Waikato Stud principals Mark and Garry Chittick along with a host of stud staff.

Led through the ring by Dave O’Leary, for many year’s O’Reilly’s handler, the athletic colt didn’t disappoint. He ignited a serious duel among the remaining buyers with Cambridge trainer Roger James coming out on top with a final bid of $200,000.

James was adamant he had bought a classic contender of the future.

“Of all the horses I had seen in the build-up to the sale there were only two colts I had earmarked as Derby material and he was at the top of that short list,” said James.

“He looks a quality staying type with a pedigree to match on the catalogue page. I saw him three weeks ago at Waikato Stud and when I saw him again here it just confirmed my first impression was correct.

“You won’t see him as a two-year-old as he will be given time to mature, but I’m expecting to see him in some good races at three.”

James has been active over the first five days of the sale with a total of nine purchases, however he admitted it had been tough going throughout the week.

“I’ve come here this year with a much smaller budget than usual and it has been tough going,” he said.

“A lot of that can be put down to the current situation with our domestic racing which is having such a negative effect on attracting owners and their confidence to buy a horse to race here.”

The final moments of the bidding action led to an emotional moment for the Chittick family as they watched the O’Reilly colt leave the ring.

“Unfortunately, it’s happened. It was always going to happen at some stage,” said Mark Chittick.

“We would have liked it to have not been this year, but in a couple of years. He (O’Reilly) was a lovely horse and it just fell that he had a lovely horse to end with which was really cool.

“It’s great that the colt has been bought by Roger James, who has had so much success with the sire. Obviously, there was a lot of fierce bidding there and to get a nice result like that makes you pretty emotional.”

Chittick paid tribute to the stallion that helped pave the way for the Stud’s success.

“He’s been so responsible for where Waikato Stud stands now in the market,” he said. “We’ve been at the stud some 25 years and when we bought the place, as a going concern, he was a foal on the property. From that day he was a character and we’ve been through the highs and lows with him.

“It’s a sad old moment because he was part of the family. He was part of the establishment, but this was always going to happen.”

NZ Racing Desk