O’Reilly filly at centre of Caulfield drama

Drama aplenty surrounded the debut victory at Caulfield on Boxing Day of the O’Reilly debutante Empress O’Reilly. Thomas Sadler was declared to ride the two-year-old, but he was unable to make the weight of 55kg and was replaced by Katelyn Mallyon a few minutes before the race.

Once underway, it was far from plain sailing either with the WS-bred and sold filly shying abruptly close to the line and shifted out, making contact with the fast-finishing Fontein Ruby, whose jockey Ryan Maloney fired in a protest.
Winning trainer Robert Smerdon said that Empress O’Reilly only shifted in the final two strides and he didn’t believe Fontein Ruby was making ground fast enough to overhaul his filly. “I was comfortable my horse had a margin,” he said of the long neck result. “It was too little, too late.” The stewards agreed and wasted little time in dismissing the objection.
Smerdon admitted he was surprised by Empress O’Reilly’s brave performance and said she had looked a little fat to his eye. “She had showed us good ability in her jump outs, but she is a gross doing filly and while I thought she could be in the firing line for a fair way, I really felt her lack of condition might have gone against her,” he said. “I’m happy to be proved wrong.”

Empress O’Reilly was purchased by Aquanita Racing out of WS’s Select Sale draft earlier this year at Karaka for $32,000. She is out of the No Excuse Needed mare Victoria’s Reign, who is a half-sister to the dual Group One Waikato International Stakes and New Zealand Derby winner Great Command. WS will offer a colt (Lot 891) by former shuttle stallion Paco Boy out of Victoria’s Reign at the Select Sale in 2014.

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