Training legend marks 60 years at National Yearling Sale

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Dave O’Sullivan

Legendary conditioner Dave O’Sullivan vividly remembers the first time he went to the National Yearling Sale as a raw 27-year-old with a newly minted trainers’ license in his back pocket. O’Sullivan marked his attendance at his 60th consecutive sale at Karaka on Monday with the assembled audience in the auction auditorium providing him with a warm reception on being informed of the feat.

O’Sullivan was humbled by the acknowledgement as he recalled some of his experiences over the years, beginning with his first sale at Trentham. “I remember going to Trentham, where the sales were based back then, when I was 27,” he said. “I didn’t go down there to buy but to see if I could make a few connections as I had just really got my trainers license.

“I came home with 12 horses from the sale, all to go to Australia after I had broken them in. “That was the start of it for me because back then we broke them in and did everything to get them ready for racing.

“Trentham in those days was something we all loved as it was a great atmosphere and although there have been a number of changes over the years, including the shift up here to Karaka, the principle remains the same as it is a contest between competing parties to buy the next champion. “For most of my life I have been coming to the sales for a reason which was to buy horses for the stable, but the last couple I have just been here because I really enjoy it.”

Although O’Sullivan struggles to name all of the top-class gallopers he has bought at the sales, there is one that stands above all others. “Without a doubt the best horse I have bought out of any sale was Mr Tiz,” he said. “He needs no introduction to racing fans, but he was a special horse.

“It is difficult to count all the good horses I have bought, but another I remember was Do Si Do, who I paid $4,000 for. “That was pretty cheap but at the end of her two-year-old career I sold her for $250,000.”

While O’Sullivan doesn’t have any plans to enter the bidding action this week, he did have some advice for son Lance. “I’ll leave any bidding this week to Lance but if he is going to buy one it better be an early runner as I don’t think I can wait for it as a five-year-old.”

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