IT is hard to put into words the impact that the late Chryss O’Reilly made on the thoroughbred business, and the level of success she enjoyed. Her sphere of influence, and her philanthropy, reached even further.

Quietly spoken, she inherited her love for horses from her uncles George and Constantin, but she enjoyed greater success than they ever did, notwithstanding that George owned a British classic winner, the 1962 Oaks heroine Monade, and Constantin owned Haras de la Louviere which Lady O’Reilly inherited.

Born in New York on June 27th, 1950, Chryss Goulandris was the daughter of John Goulandris, a member of a Greek family of ship owners and operators, and Maria Lemos, from another Greek shipping dynasty. Though she grew up mainly in the USA, as a young woman she studied French civilisation and art history at the Sorbonne in Paris, afterwards returning to New York to work in the family offices.

A passion for breeding and racing was nurtured initially in France, and later in Ireland. With her husband, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, whom she married in 1991, they owned Castlemartin Stud outside Kilcullen. Latterly, Lady O’Reilly’s base in Ireland has been Hollyhill Stud in Brannocktown.

For many years Lady O’Reilly had a large number of horses in training in Ireland, England and France, and she enjoyed big race success with a variety of different trainers.

In Ireland she won blacktype races with horses trained by Kevin Prendergast, Dermot Weld, Eddie Lynam, John Oxx, Jim Bolger, Paul Deegan, Declan Gillespie and James Burns. At one time she had 100 horses in training, and interests in some 125 broodmares.

Group 1

Kevin Prendergast gave her a first Irish Group 1 victory with Rebelline in the 2002 Tattersalls Gold Cup, after which Dermot Weld captured the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes with Chinese White and the Group 1 Irish St Leger with Voleuse De Coeurs. Early major race successes also included the 1996 Coventry Stakes with the Prendergast-trained Verglas, and the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot with Sahara Slew, trained at Currabeg by John Oxx.

For a decade, Lady O’Reilly chaired the board of the Irish National Stud, and during her tenure she had the distinction and great honour to host the late Queen Elizabeth II during her historic visit to Ireland. Following the news of her death, the INS said of their former chair: “Lady O’Reilly served for many years as an incredibly dedicated board member and chair of the Irish National Stud. She was a passionate supporter of the breeding and racing industry in Ireland and abroad.

“She leaves an indelible mark on the thoroughbred through the exploits of the many Group 1 winners she bred, but it will be the depth of warmth and generosity she afforded to so many people across this great industry that will be cherished above all her many accomplishments.”


Lady O’Reilly was closely involved with, and served as a director of, The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic network supporting peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and co-founded by her husband. She was also the first chair, thanks to an invitation from her friend Paul Newman, of the Barretstown Castle Hole in the Wall Club.

Lady O’Reilly also funded a number of education programmes, benefiting students at universities in Ireland, and was a great patron of the arts.

Given the various partnerships she had, in addition to her own entities such as Castlemartin, Skymarc Farm, Petra Bloodstock Agency and more, it is difficult to quantify the extent of Lady O’Reilly’s involvement, and her success, in the industry. However, there were many highlights, apart from those already mentioned.


A notable triumph as a breeder came in 1996 when Helissio, a son of Fairy King, won the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and was crowned that year’s European champion. He also won the Group 1 Prix Ganay, Prix Lupin and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud twice.

A decade earlier, Highest Honor flew the flag for the then Chryss Goulandris as a breeder, and that Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan winner enjoyed great success as a sire. His son Verglas, who was raced by Lady O’Reilly, later stood at the Irish National Stud in Kildare.

The Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club-French Derby winner Lawman, and his Group 1 Prix de Diane-French Oaks winning half-sister Latice, were other notable breeding successes.

Lady O’Reilly’s untimely passing on August 23rd has left the worlds of racing and breeding all the poorer. She had just completed a few days at the Arqana Yearling Sale, watched as two runners she bred had been successful in Group 2 races the previous weekend, and was understood to have been planning a visit to Ireland.

She will be greatly missed by many family members and friends.