A focus on just eight mares and faith in Chatswood Stud’s Reward For Effort is yielding success for Innisfree Thoroughbred’s Andy O’Shea and his wife Carol.

A ‘small but efficient’ selection of home-bred racehorses, coupled with Reward For Effort, has produced the Listed winner Blondie, the seven-time winner Petite’s Reward and Rewarding Laughter, who has had recent back-to-back successes in Adelaide. And now the promising two-year-old Oh So Rewarding (Reward For Effort) who debuted at Sandown, running a commendable fifth in the Merson Cooper Stakes.

Oh So Rewarding is a third generation Innisfree product, is giving the O’Shea’s and trainer Brendan McCarthy every feeling that he can capture some valuable stakes-success for his family in the near future.

“He’s homebred and I bought Petite Filou (Snippets) many years ago, bred Petite Briefs (Brief Truce {USA}) out of her, and also Oh So Petite (Dash For Cash) and he’s the first foal out of Oh So Petite and he goes very nicely,” O’Shea said.

“He’s got plenty of speed and his work has been nice. He is not going to be a very big horse, as he’s the first foal but he’s a lovely horse. He will improve the family if he can get a bit of black type,” he said.

Racetrack success is nothing new for the O’Sheas. The very first horse they owned a share in, Hula Warrior (Hula Chief {NZ}) was a three-time stakes-winner in the early 1990s. They then bought Group 1 winning sprinter Keltrice (Kenmare {Fr}) as a yearling, which set the Innisfree on its way as a breeding operation.

These days, the Pakenham South-based farm is a lot quieter as Andy and Carol focus on quality over quantity.

“I’ve got eight mares and I’ve got a good nucleus these days. I used to have 40 mares, but I’ve just kept the nucleus of the good ones and gone up-market a bit with my breeding. It’s paying dividends, and now we are having a good time,” O’Shea said.

Included in that different approach has been the faith O’Shea has put in Reward For Effort, who he always felt was a good match for his mares.

“He was a lovely big horse and he was very well-bred. But it’s all about good mares as far as I’m concerned. The sire just tops the mare off a bit. I think he’s a lovely stretchy horse and he puts a bit of quality in them and it’s so far so good,” he said.

What he has been able to produce is horses with plenty of speed. Only around six horses currently race in the white and green Innisfree colours, but they are almost always at the front of the field. A prime example is Petite’s Reward, who is out of half-sister to Oh So Rewarding’s dam.

And it is her younger 2-year-old full-brother, Lucifer’s Reward, who has been a constant measuring stick for Oh So Rewarding as they have been built up for their respective racetrack careers.

“I have the full brother to Petite’s Reward and as a two-year-old, he’s a different type. He’s a longer type, going to be a different horse and we grew them together and the other bloke has gone out with shins, but this Oh So Rewarding hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s all professional and he’s been here before, which is really nice,” O’Shea said.

Meanwhile, O’Shea confirmed Blondie, also a debut two-year-old winner and the flagbearer for Innisfree over the past 18 months, is nearing a racetrack return after running third in a Cranbourne trial on Monday.

“Blondie pulled up a little ordinary after her last start and we’ve been chasing what was wrong. We didn’t found anything, so we threw her in the deep end on Monday to see what happened and she went fine,” O’Shea said.

“She pulled up well, so if we can get her back, we will be very happy campers.”

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