Trentham double highlights two home-bred stalwarts

By Dennis Ryan

21 Dec 2022

Trentham double highlights two home-bred stalwartsSagunto (Lisa Allpress), a member of O’Reilly’s final crop, adds his name to a long list of big

Group-race wins by Darci La Bella and Sagunto at Trentham last Saturday underlined the massive impact that two of our very best home-bred stallions have had on the racing and breeding landscape in the opening decades of the 21st Century.
O’Reilly and Darci Brahma were very much birds of a feather when they were born and then raced either side of the turn of the Century.
O’Reilly, who was a weanling at the time of the Chittick family’s lock, stock and barrel takeover of Waikato Stud in 1994, was a son of one of the earliest successful shuttle stallions, Last Tycoon, and Golden Slipper winner Courtza. Darci Brahma, bred in 2002 at the Vela brothers’ Pencarrow Stud, was by that most famous of all shuttles, Danehill, from the Oaks-winning Zabeel mare Grand Echezeaux.
O’Reilly was retained by Waikato Stud, whereas Darci Brahma was knocked down to David Ellis for $1.1 million at the 2004 National Yearling Sale. Both horses attained Group One status, O’Reilly twice in a six-race career across just one campaign at three years. The quality of that form earned the NZ Horse of the Year and Sprinter-Miler awards in 1997.
Darci Brahma’s career lasted much longer, 19 starts in fact from two to four years. He was a Group One winner in all three seasons and retired with a total of five elite races amongst his 10 wins. He was the age-group champion at two and three years as well as Champion Sprinter at four in 2007.
Both therefore had plenty to offer when they were retired to stud and both shone with a raft of major winners. O’Reilly, who died in his paddock at Waikato Stud aged 21 on New Year’s Eve, 2014, covered a total of 1,792 mares over 15 seasons, ranging from a high of 232 mares in 2007, down to 77 when still to prove himself in 1999.
In his final season, 157 coverings produced exactly 100 foals (excluding those from 14 exported mares), one of which was Sagunto, who at seven years last weekend credited his sire with his 96th stakes winner when he led throughout in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Cup.
Sagunto is one of three major winners to carry the blue with lightning bolt colours of Matamata couple Peter and Kim McKay, who shelled out $120,000 to secure him from Waikato Stud’s Karaka 2017 Premier draft. The standout in the McKay trio was 2006 Karaka/Waikato Stud graduate Alamosa, a $60,000 purchase who won three Group One races under Peter McKay’s training before his sale to Wellfield Lodge and subsequent Gr. 1 Toorak Handicap success.
The McKays’ third O’Reilly stakes winner was 2006 Waikato Stud graduate Joey Massino, whose seven wins were headed by the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas and Gr. 3 Wellington Guineas.
The relationship between the McKays and the nursery just a few kilometres from their base on Tower Road gained further credence when Purrfect Puss (by O’Reilly’s son Sacred Falls) carried the Waikato Stud colours in her maiden win over a smart field of three-year-olds on Saturday’s Trentham support card. Peter McKay took his jockey son Shaun into partnership in August and their tally together now stands at three.
Arion Pedigrees credit O’Reilly with 50 individual Group winners amongst his total of 96 black type winners, 15 of them at Group One. His proven sire sons Alamosa, Sacred Falls and Shamexpress between them have more than 450 successful progeny to date, 35 of them stakes winners and six Group One winners, while the Hall of Fame stallion’s multiple premiership awards include broodmare sire titles.
Darci Brahma, who took up duties at The Oaks Stud in 2007, has to date left 12 Group One winners amongst his black-type total of 48. On Saturday at Trentham his five-year-old daughter Darci La Bella completed a four-win sequence in the Gr. 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes to go with her Gr. 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes win at Pukekohe last month. In October she had won the Gr. 3 Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes after opening her season account in an open sprint at Te Rapa.
The Allan Sharrock-trained mare’s stablemate Sinarahma has also done sterling service for Darci Brahma, with her latest success in the Gr. 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes earlier this month added to wins in the Gr. 3 Cuddle Stakes, Listed Rotorua Cup and two editions of the Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes.
In common with O’Reilly, Darci Brahma’s list of big winners ranges from two and three-year-olds to older performers from sprint to extreme staying distances. His son Super Easy has added another element as the sire of seven stakes winners headed by the Group Two winner and Group One-placed sprinter Bonny Lass. Genuine, versatile and hardy are hallmarks of Darci Brahma and O’Reilly’s progeny and beyond their own lives their influence will be felt for many years to come.
At age 20, Darci Brahma has met something of a cross-road in his stud career, having been withdrawn from service several weeks ago due to an infected testicle. He is currently under-going tests to determine his future.
“It began out of nowhere with an abdominal infection, that spread to one of his testicles and we had no option but to withdraw him from service,” The Oaks general manager Rick Williams told RaceForm.
“He’s well on the mend and we’re planning to test-breed him to a handful of mares over the next few days. In himself he’s fine, his libido’s good and he looks like a 15-year-old, so we’re hoping that he can return to normal service next spring.”