The Meeting of Two Foxes

By Alayna Cullen

The fox is a symbol associated with Tattersalls both in England and Ireland, but for many people this symbol also bears an association with Tally-Ho Stud, one of Ireland’s premier stud farms. Owned and managed by Tony and Anne O’Callaghan, along with their sons Roger and Henry, the stud boasts an impressive business portfolio that ranges from stallion mastery and breeding to pinhooking and selling at the major yearling and breeze-up sales across Europe. With sire power such as Kodiac (GB), Zebedee (GB) and first-season yearling sire Morpheus (GB) standing at the Westmeath base, it only stands to reason that they should have a strong draft of 19 yearlings to offer at Tattersalls Ireland’s September Yearling sale, which begins on Tuesday and runs through Wednesday.

Purchased in the late 1970’s by Tony and Anne, Tally-Ho Stud has established itself as one of the leading operations in Europe. Not only has the stud become a recognized force, but so too has the O’Callaghan family, with Tony’s brother Gay owning Yeomanstown and Morristown Latin Studs, and brother Noel owning Mountarmstrong Stud. Tony’s sons Roger and Henry are following in their father’s stead.  Roger said “it was pre-destined” for him to be integral in the farm’s management, and he described Henry as “a gift,” returning to the farm after completing a masters and spending some time working in finance.

Sitting in amongst the family in a kitchen that envelops you into a warm and welcoming environment, it is easy to step into the playful banter that the four enjoy.

When asked how working together while keeping the family dynamic, Roger quipped, “I give out to him he gives out to me.” With a chuckle, he added, “we all just get stuck in with whatever has to be done and we all listen.”

Tony added “there’s no magic, it’s just common sense and it’s not very hard to listen. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. You have to give and take as well.”

Both men also gave an insight into how they work when purchasing foals: if you want to buy the horse, you buy the horse, and buy the horse is exactly what they do, with a healthy ratio of homebreds to pinhooked horses on the farm.

“At the foal sales we will help our own stallions, but at the yearling sales we are there to sell,” Roger said. “We have to help ourselves first but our ratio of homebreds to pinhooks runs at 2:1.”

Tally-Ho has long been a consignor at Tattersalls Ireland, its graduates of the sale including this year’s G1 Prix Morny winner Unfortunately (Ire), who is by the stud’s ill-fated Society Rock (Ire). With Society Rock striding ahead in the first-season sire race, his loss is obviously felt, as Roger pointed out, but there is still this year’s crop of yearlings and a small crop of weanlings to look forward to.

“People are lamenting his loss, but there isn’t anything we can do about it,” he said. “You can’t look back, you’ve got to look forward.”

Anne added, “We’ve had these setbacks before but you just keep going forward and hope to find the next one.”

There is a can-do attitude surrounding the family, an attitude that has helped them establish the farm’s and the family’s reputation for being straight-shooters.

“We want to sell winners, we like selling winners and watching them run,” said Tony. “The buck stops with yourself. We want our horses to be good for the people that buy them. We are straight. We stand over them. We love to sell a winner.”

Roger added, “Selling those good horses has stood to us over time, [if they’ve bought a winner off you] they would be the first people back to buy a horse off you next year.”

Based in Barns B and C for the sales, Tally-Ho has a number of nice horses to pay attention to. The family has level heads on their shoulders and know that true judgement of a horse only comes when they enter the ring.

“We’ll find out on the day [what our good ones are], is the honest answer,” Roger said.

However, he did earmark lot 82, a colt by Morpheus from the family of group-winning sprinters Maarek (GB) and Ardad (Ire) as “a fine horse.” He added that must-see horses are lot 385, a colt by Society Rock out of Coolminx (Ire), who is listed-placed, and lot 450, a Morpheus colt, who is a first foal for the listed-placed Gatalmalata (Ire).

If anyone wanted to get their hands on a relation to Unfortunately, look no further than the group of yearlings the stud has in Part Two of the sale.

“In part two we have a colt who is out of a half-sister to Unfortunately (lot 577 by Morpheus) who is very nice,” Roger said.

Tally-Ho is an operation that has succeeded due to the work ethic of its founders and the team that helps in the day-to-day running.

“There is a routine in place that has been in place for years and years,” said Tony. “We finish the morning every morning at 12 p.m. We’d have over a 100 [yearlings], and the routine is there so once you know what you’re doing there’s absolutely no problem.”

As well as caring for the horses, there is a consideration placed on the people that are employed by the farm.

“If you are employing people you can’t be switching off in October and telling people to wait until next year,” said Henry. “They are all related, they all feed into each other.”

Tally-Ho has been around for nearly 40 years and it is very easy to see them being around for the next 40.

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