O'Reilly  Photo:

A - Z of New Zealand greats - O'Reilly

Çaitlin O'Sullivan
13 May 2020

O'Reilly was destined for the 1993 Karaka Sales but a failed vet inspection resulted in Gary Chittick deciding to keep the young colt to race - a decision that would prove to pay big dividends.

O'Reilly made his debut raceday appearance as a three year-old with two easy wins at Wellington and Tauranga. In just his third raceday start, O'Reilly was thrown into the deep end when he lined up in the Gr.1 Bayer Classic. It was a big ask, but the superstar colt delivered, holding off High Return to claim the feature.

Showings such class, connections decided to shoot for back-to-back Group 1s and O'Reilly lined up in the 1997 Telegraph Handicap six weeks later. O'Reilly's rivals were older and more experienced, but in just his fourth start, O'Reilly was victorious by two lengths.

Foreign shores beckoned and O'Reilly lined up in the Australlian Guineas, where he finished second. O'Reilly's career on the track will always be a cruel question of 'what could have been' after he ruptured a suspensory ligament in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in just his sixth start.

Deservingly O'Reilly was named Campion 3YO and Horse of the Year in 1996-97.

While O'Reilly was a champion on the track, he was a legend in the thoroughbred breeding industry. O'Reilly retired to Waikato Stud in 1997, where he was their flag bearing stallion for many years.

He sired the likes of Final Destination, Silent Achiever, Shamrocker, Master O'Reilly and Sacred Falls, to name a few. He has sired 95 stakes winners and 15th Group I winners.

O'Reilly passed away in 2015, aged 21. He is buried at Waikato Stud alongside his dam, Golden Slipper winner Courtza.

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