Another Group One For O’Reilly

Champion sire O’Reilly was represented by his 15th individual Group One winner at Awapuni this afternoon after a brave O’Marilyn prevailed in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.

On a stellar day for the Matamata farm, Pussy O’Reilly then claimed the Listed Flying Handicap before Savabeel’s daughter Soriano was victorious in the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup.

O’Marilyn returned an outstanding performance to claim the feature event after she had to overcome a torrid run. “I said to Sam (Spratt) if you get caught three wide just grin and bear it and be patient and the filly showed a good turn of foot off a hard run,” trainer Stephen McKee said.

Wide gates haven’t helped O’Marilyn in recent starts and she finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie where she jumped from barrier nine in the 10-horse field. “She drew outside Vespa and I’m not saying she would have beaten him, but reverse the draws and it would have been closer,” McKee said.

Veteran rider Noel Harris was aboard both the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Pussy O’Reilly and the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-prepared Soriano. The latter also covered extra ground in the running and she too proved too strong for her rivals. “Zurella kept me three wide, but in saying that I had cover, and when Military Move came around me I didn’t panic – I knew she’s got a big heart and always tries,” Harris said.

The promising mare Lilly Belle completed a double for Savabeel when she claimed the final event on the Awapuni card while WS graduate Lion Red (Fast ‘N’ Famous) was successful at Ellerslie.

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