Shamrocker (NZ) reminds O’Brien of the value of a Kiwi-made bargain

Dennis Ryan, NZTM Release

If Victorian trainer Danny O’Brien needed a reminder that a good New Zealand-bred horse can be sourced from anywhere, he’s got it in spades with his history-making filly Shamrocker (NZ) (O’Reilly).

On Saturday at Randwick Shamrocker (NZ) became the first filly to complete the VRC Australian Guineas-AJC Australian Derby double. As an autumn two-year-old she had also beaten a field combining both sexes in the Gr. 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes.

O’Brien has his bloodstock sales manager Karl Brown to thank for securing Shamrocker (NZ) at just $65,000 from the Select session of the 2009 National Yearling Sale. He had attended Karaka for the Premier session but stable commitments back in Melbourne meant leaving any final decision making later in the week to Brown, a former Magic Millions employee in Queensland.

“I always try and skim through the Select catalogue, especially when it comes to getting hold of a nice filly,” O’Brien told NZ Thoroughbred Marketing this morning. “A year or two earlier we got a filly called Pleasantsundaygirl from there and she managed to win a stakes race.”

That Cape Cross filly cost $50,000 at the 2006 Select Sale and won the 2007 Listed MRC Twilight Glow Stakes, one of three wins from just eight starts for O’Brien.

Further underlining his skill with horses that are not necessarily from the top commercial drawer is Master O’Reilly (NZ) (O’Reilly), a $75,000 purchase from the 2004 South Island Sale and who put O’Brien on the map with his 2007 Caulfield Cup victory.

A particular focus for O’Brien is that Shamrocker (NZ), Master O’Reilly (NZ) and another of his high achieving New Zealand sales graduates, Vigor (NZ), are all by Waikato Stud stallion O’Reilly (NZ) (Last Tycoon).

“I’ve had a fantastic run with horses by O’Reilly,” he commented. “The best thing about them is that they improve with age and maturity, so that’s something to consider with this filly.”

O’Brien had immense admiration for Shamrocker (NZ) well before her victory in the 150th edition of Saturday’s Randwick classic. “Her Sires’ Produce win at the end of last season was a bonus and I had so much admiration for her when she finished second in the VRC Oaks. She had been badly galloped on in the Wakeful, so to come out five days later and still finish second was a huge effort.”

Safe in the knowledge that the big filly copes well with a back-up, O’Brien is looking forward to the prospect of adding next Saturday’s AJC Australian Oaks, in which she will clash with her VRC Oaks victor Brazilian Pulse (NZ) (Captain Rio).

Beyond that, O’Brien is already making plans for the Victorian spring carnival, with Shamrocker (NZ) obvious in his thinking as a Melbourne Cup candidate.
“She’s a born stayer, never carries a lot of condition but she’s clean winded with natural stamina,” says O’Brien. “I’m already looking forward to the spring, she’s already secured a start in the big ones and I think there’s still that improvement to come with maturity.”

Back in New Zealand, Shamrocker’s Auckland breeders Vern and Margaret Trillo are ecstatic at another big win to go with the filly’s earlier achievements.
“She’s quite something isn’t she?” said Vern Trillo in stating the obvious about the daughter of Blues Traveller mare Bohemian Blues.

“Any way you look at it – the time she ran, the way she beat the boys – she’s got to be one of the best!”

The Trillos are in the privileged position of having a two-year-old sister to Shamrocker (NZ) in work with Peter McKay as well as a weanling half-sister by Lucky Unicorn, while Bohemian Blues is back in foal to O’Reilly.

“Peter really likes the filly,” the equine dentist added.

“She’s had one preparation and will come in again probably before winter, so that’s pretty exciting to think that all going well we’ll be racing her next season”.

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