05/13/2013 3:10PM

Noel O’Callaghan, bloodstock agent, dies at 77


Noel O’Callaghan, a founding member of the BBA (Ireland) bloodstock agency and the agent who bid $2.9 million for the yearling A.P. Indy, has died in Shankill, Co. Dublin, Ireland, after a short illness, according to an obituary posted by Colliers Funeral Service in Bray, Co. Wicklow. O’Callaghan was 77.

O’Callaghan, formerly an agent with Tim Vigors Bloodstock, worked with BBA (Ireland)’s late founder Tom Cooper when Cooper launched the agency in 1956. The BBA (Ireland) pioneered European purchasing at the Kentucky yearling sales starting in 1959 and also were among the first to ship horses internationally by air. Since it opened, the Co. Kildare-based agency has purchased or managed four Epsom Derby winners, two Grand National winners, and a host of champion racehorses around the world, including North America’s 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.

O’Callaghan bought A.P. Indy at the 1990 Keeneland July sale on behalf of Japanese developer Tomonori Tsurumaki. O’Callaghan later recalled: “We figured we’d have to be brave,” and in the end he outgunned trainer D. Wayne Lukas for the colt, a Seattle Slew half-brother to 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall. He also snapped up A. P Jet, a future Japanese stakes winner and successful New York sire, for $2 million at the same auction.

“We weren’t really budgeted to spend that much money on those two horses,” O’Callaghan told Los Angeles Times racing columnist Bill Christine in 1992, after A.P. Indy won the Santa Anita Derby. “But Summer Squall had won the Preakness several weeks before the sale, and A.P. Indy was out of the same mare. That stimulated our interest in buying him in no uncertain terms.”

Among O’Callaghan’s many other noteworthy purchases was Irish classic winner and champion Kooyonga. O’Callaghan, acting for Japanese owner Mitsuo Haga, bought her for $1.2 million in 1991 after she finished second to Shadayid in England’s 1,000 Guineas; she went on to take the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

O’Callaghan is survived by wife Yvonne and daughters Elva, Nicole, and Annabel, and one granddaughter. The funeral was to take place on Thursday at St. Anne’s Church, Shankill, Co. Dublin. The family requests flowers only from family and suggests donations to Blackrock Hospice, Sweetman’s Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.