Mark and Pauline O'Connor


Farm location

Auburn Road
, Invercargill 8 ha

Plus 2.75 ha grazing - Moores Road.

How did you get started in breeding:

Pauline’s mother Myrtle McCarthy (nee Dalgety) is a long time breeder and Mark’s grandfather (JJ Burke) was a hobby trainer.

Name of first broodmare?

Bought Campeche (Talk About Class-Rollerball) in foal to Safely Kept in 1996.  The 2nd foal we bred from the mare turned out to be a world record holder in Fake Denario.

Is your priority to breed your horses for racing or to sell at the sales?

Targeting yearling sales plus racing fillies for broodmare retention.

What do you consider was the best horse you’ve bred?

Fake Denario. Won Australasian Breeders Crown and New Zealand Sires Stakes Final as a 3 year old for Robert Famularo and trainer Steven Reid before being sold to America where he recorded a world record on a 5/8 track of 1:48.4 – lifetime earnings $770,000.

Best horses you have sold away from the yearling sales?

Cut And Style - (Presidential Ball - Stylish Arden) - we sold her as a 4 year old after winning 3 races for Wayne Adams in Southland. Went on to win 7 in NZ, qualified for Harness Jewels and subsequently did a good job in USA.  More recently Somnio Denario (Elsu – Highview Dream), who won 2 races here in NZ before being sold into Australia, has registered a total of 10 lifetime wins.1 NZ win mare Lis Tureen (Lis Mara-Truely Jaccka) which we raced with friends is on a roll in South Australia having won a further 7 races in the space of 3 months.

Best priced yearlings sold at the sales:

Cee Cee Denario (Christian Cullen - Flow Denario) sold for $65,000 in 2008, Romeo Denario (American Ideal – Presidential Sweet) sold for $55,000 in 2012, Magnifico Denario (Art Major-Averil’s Atom) sold for $46,000 in 2014 and Alliwantforxmas (Mach Three – Arden’s Queen) sold for $44,000 to clients of John Hay in 2011 

Highest priced filly bred and sold:

As above Art Major filly ex Averil’s Atom named Magnifico Denario sold for $46,000 in 2014.  Breeder comment – extracting value from fillies via the sales is challenging!


Best-performed colt sold:

Fake Denario, also Spero Denario who won 10 races and $90K.

Best performed filly sold?

Forte Denario, a McArdle filly ex Highview Dream that won 10 races in Australia.

Is there any horse that you've brought back from the yearling sales and been thankful that you did?

Cut and Style (Presidential Ball - Stylish Arden) – went on to win 7 NZ races & 9 in the USA


Favourite all time stallions?


Fake Left - understandably, closely followed by Presidential Ball.  We have patronised Somebeachsomewhere in recent seasons and believe he is an outstanding sire prospect. 


What up and coming sire are you most excited about?


Well Said is performing extremely well in the North American market and we have liked what we  have seen to date with his NZ progeny, albeit only small numbers to date.  We will patronise Captain Treacherous if he is available to NZ breeders this season.  


How important do you feel it is to breed to a stallion that will possibly leave two year olds?


Very important from a yearling sale vendors perspective.


How important do you feel research is in choosing a stallion for your mare?


Assists the process to know which crosses have worked or may work. Also useful to know who the stallion competed against on the race track.


How important is the stallion size?


Critical to match up suitable size with intending broodmares. Buyers tend to shy away from small immature looking yearlings.


Do you prefer to see the stallion choices in the flesh?


Yes, if that is achieveable.


As a professional breeder, how often do you buy outside mares to broaden your breeding stock?


Have done so in the past and continue to assess options. Bought into New Age Man’s family via acquiring Averil’s Atom and Stylish Sweetheart’s line via Presidential Sweet.  Important to identify a mare's temperament from a reliable source.  Also to breed to replace existing broodmares.


What current New Zealand breed would you like to buy into?


The Black Watch family continues to throw high class winners.


What feeding plan do you follow when rearing your foals?


Primarily chaff and sweet feed mix with other additives as required (minerals, oil and milk powder) and hay. Hard feed during winter and then grass only during spring before going back to hard feed 12-14 weeks before sale.


If you breed primarily pacers, would you ever consider breeding trotters?


Not at this stage.


Was there a famous mare/horse that you had the opportunity to buy but didn’t- and how much did it sell for?


At 1997 PGGW All Age sale bid unsuccessfully on 2 mares from same family (Tammera & Tentative) - both are good producers now tracing to family of Lizzie Maquire, Thomas Maquire & Matt Maquire.


What do you most enjoy about breeding horses?


Enjoy seeing the young horses mature and develop into potential race horses, also enjoy the buzz of seeing our own progeny perform on the race track.


What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect about breeding horses today?


Cost structure is still not providing a margin to the majority of yearling sale vendors - we also need to be attracting the next generation of race fans to get involved in the harness industry.  How we do that successfully is the big question with a lot of competing entertainment in the market place.


Breeding Stock list:

Averils Atom (Soky’s Atom – Quest For Glory) 2 wins and a ½ sister to New Age Man – has SBSW filly weanling (heading to sales), in foal to American Ideal and being served by Well Said. Progeny – Shezacullen 10 Aust wins $60,000 / 1.58 MR, Averil’s Quest 9 wins / over $100K, Shezaball 8 wins / $60,000, Southern Delight & Fizzi Lizzi both 3 wins plus recent 2 yr old filly qualifier.


Southern Delight (Bettors Delight - Averil's Atom) 3 wins – Her first foal is a Sportswriter weanling filly (heading to sales), in foal to Well Said and will be served by SBSW.


Presidential Sweet (Presidential Mare - Stylish Sweetheart) 3 win mare 1.57.2 TT full sister to Group 1 open class pacer Gomeo Romeo. Best Progeny – Romeo Denario 1 win. Full brother sold into Murray Brown’s stable at Feb 2014 sale. Has R2 Mach Three filly that we will try, a weanling filly by A Rocknroll Dance (heading to sales), is in foal to Art Major and next season sire still to be determined.


Shezaball Breeding Syndicate – Shezaball (Presidential Ball - Averil's Atom) 8 win mare 1.56.2 Progeny – R2 Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, Art Major weanling colt (heading to sales) and is to be served by SBSW.


Mares leased for 2 years to Woodlands Stud:


• Goodtogo Denario (Presidential Ball – Dreamo Denario) 1 win
• Ergo Denario (Bettors Delight - Orse M Denario) unraced due to injury.


Current racing list as at 01 August 2016:


Kayteeoh Denario (Rocknroll Hanover – Goodtogo Denario) 4 yr old mare
Ideal Denario (American Ideal – Ergo Denario) 4 yr old mare
For The Corz (Lis Mara – Corzanello) 3 yr old filly who is a ½ sister to Corzin Terror being raced by Stylish Breeding Partnership
Mantis Denario (SBSW – Averil’s Atom) 3 yr old filly provided under racing lease to friends
Muso Denario (Rocknroll Hanover – Averil’s Atom) 2 yr old filly raced by MSC Syndicate
Dolce Denario (Mach Three – Presidential Sweet) 2 yr old filly
Lorelei Lee (Net Ten EOM – Truely Jaccka) yearling filly


Heading to Christchurch Yearling Sales Feb 2017:

•Donde Denario (SBSW – Averil’s Atom) filly
•Scribe Denario (Sportswriter – Southern Delight) filly
•Jive Denario (A Rocknroll Dance – Presidential Sweet) filly
•Ronnie Pickering (Art Major – Shezaball) colt

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