Junior driver opportunities within the stable were boosted with a transfer by Sarah O’Reilly in September, 2019.
Sarah, winner of the this year’s McMillan Equine Feeds NZ Junior Driver Championship in just her second season, belongs to one of NZ’ most respected and trusted harness racing families, being the daughter of Rakaia parents, Gerard and Jane.
Gerard, the former NZ driver of former top NZ pacer Tiger Tara, has been a successful trainer-driver in Canterbury since the early 1980s.
Gerard’s brothers, Patrick, Kerry and Leo, have also made notable contributions as trainer-drivers from their mid-Canterbury stables.
Sarah’s late grand-father, Pat sen., had the distinction of never being suspended or fined during a 40-year race driving career.
Pat. sen was a NZ Cup-winning reinsman, winning with Spry in 1969.
Latterly, he also trained 15-race winner and smart 1980s pacer, Norton, including the 1984 Gr.2 Easter Cup at Addington when driven by son, Kerry, beating Ben, Direct Kiwi and Hands Down.
Sarah, following the guidance of her father, gained her first career win for another employer, Bruce Negus, behind Highland Reign, at Motukarara, on April 2, 2018. She scored four wins in her debut term.
Last season, she racked up 20 wins to finish sixth on the NZ Junior Drivers Premiership table.
She all but won her first-up Kentuckiana Lodge drive for the season at Addington on September 13, 2019, behind consistent mare Donegal Mary Francis.
But, to be sure, to be sure, a week later they justified their hot $1.90 favouritism at Invercargill, leading throughout the penalty-free junior drivers pace.
The Irish luck of driver and owner (Sarah wearing the Donegal green owners colours of Kaikoura’s Murray Boyd) was too much for their opposition, with Sarah controlling the pace to a nicety. Donegal Mary Francis delivered by 2 1/2 lengths, sure to be the first of many with the stable.