Princess Meritaten and the Cullen Connection

Rob Courtney

Canterbury horseman Brian O’Meara has had plenty of good horses through his hands over a long career as a trainer. Tuapeka Knight and Really Honkin quickly come to mind but history will forever link his name to that of champion pacer then champion sire Christian Cullen.

‘Cullen’ was a superstar in every sense of the word with plenty of X factor to match his bling (he had 4 white feet) that netted 22 wins in just 31 starts and $1.25 M in stakes

The O’Meara colours fly again on Bob Butt, Princess Meritaten, with Brian O’Meara in the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Stakes

He passed that ability on to many of his offspring and then his fillies became sought after broodmares, especially when mated with the great Bettor’s Delight.

Acknowledging that ‘Cullen’ was a ‘horse in a lifetime, O’Meara would have taken little persuading when an opportunity came to breed from one of his full relations in Dreamsaregold (In The Pocket – Pleasant Franco)

The O’Meara family bought into the ownership of her first 4 four foals.

Hurricane Anvil (8 wins + $85k) and Close To Cullen (7 wins + $47k) were handy types once in Australia and The Princess (by Falcon Seelster) qualified but didn’t show a lot in three starts down south for Invercargill trainer Murray Brown.

Fast forward to the present day and The Princess is the dam of O’Meara’s latest rising star in Princess Meritaten (A Rocknroll Dance) with a record that now stands at four wins and three placings in just eight starts with a best winning mile rate of 1:55.7, recorded last week at Addington against a handy field of mares.

Happy to have Woodend Beach trainer Bob Butt manage the training side of things, the promising mare, now five, has been given plenty of time to develop and didn’t debut until March of 2023.

Bob Butt and Brian O’Meara

The latest win, in particular, was very suggestive that the patient policy is going to reap tidy rewards for her connections in the coming months as long as she keeps a clean bill of health.

Sophia’s Dream (4m Bettors’s Delight – The Princess) and the aptly named 3yo full brother Jesse Owens are also showing good abilities for Butt who certainly isn’t complaining now that O’Meara has decided to take a ‘backseat’ from the grind of training horses.

Sophia’s Dream has recorded a win + a placing in just 3 starts and looks good enough to go a wee bit further yet.

Unfortunately, O’Meara lost The Princess earlier in the year but not before she left further fillies from Tall Dark Stranger (yearling) and Downbytheseaside, her last live foal.

The O’Meara family have also bred from 2 of her other daughters, Cheddar’s Princess (by Betterthancheddar) and Voodoo Priestess (by Auckland Reactor). Both were race winners in short careers and both have had 2 foals to date. ‘Cheddar’ has produced a colt & a filly from Downbythesesaside and ‘Voodoo’ has produced a filly by Captain Crunch and a filly by American Ideal.

With plenty of equine talent to work with, the O’Meara / Cullen connection looks like ‘keeping on’ for some time to come and his latest ‘Princess’ looks like adding another significant chapter to the racing history of the O’Meara family.