Gary Hennessy’s smart Kiwi galloper Ocean Park put themselves firmly in Cox Plate 2012 contention in this spring after a successful four-year-old debut back home in the Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings in New Zealand on the weekend.
The Thorn Park stallion has now won four of their eight career starts, two of those runs having been on Aussie soil earlier in the year when the travelled over for the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
After an initially disappointing debut down under when eighth to super filly Mosheen in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m), Ocean Park relished getting up to the 2000m at Rosehill on March 31 when Glen Boss rode them to a devastatingly close second to the Gai Waterhouse-trained Laser Hawk in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas.
Following a well-earned five month spell Ocean Park resumed on Saturday to carry 58.5kg to an eye-catching half-length victory over Xanadu in the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m).
“I was confident coming into Saturday’s race,” Hennessy said.
“His trial at Te Teko was very impressive; he just raced away from some nice horses, so we knew he was on track for a good run fresh up.”
The win put the up-and-coming stayer right in the frame for a return trip to Oz, this time heading to Melbourne for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
Ocean Park has also been nominated for the 2012 Caulfield Cup the Saturday before over the mile and a half, with the Cox Plate their preferred distance and race at this stage.
After their first-up victory Ocean Park is now rated an $18 chance in the Cox Plate betting markets at bookmaker.com.au that are firmly led by the Waterhouse-trained duo of Pierro, unbeaten in seven career starts after their first-up victory in The Run To The Rose on the weekend, and More Joyous who is set to resume in the $100,000 Listed Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on September 15 – Golden Rose Day.
In the Caulfield Cup odds meanwhile Ocean Park is the $18 second favourite behind the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon who ran a first-up fifth to Sincero in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on the weekend.
Hennessy named the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield Racecourse on September 22 as Ocean Park’s next run, their performance in which when reunited with Glen Boss would help determine whether it is the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate they contest this year.
“Glen Boss said after his run in the Rosehill Guineas last season that he was a serious Group 1 horse and an ideal type to take to the Cox Plate,” Hennessy said.
“He is nominated for the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup and we are looking at kicking off his Australian campaign in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes in three weeks’ time.
“We will wait and see what Glen Boss says about the horse after the Underwood but at this stage we are leaning more towards the Cox Plate.”
Access the full futures markets for all the upcoming Sydney and Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival features online by bookmaker.com.au.
Remember to quote the exclusive code BONUSBET when you make your first bookmaker.com.au deposit to have it matched 100% up to a generous $400 which you can use on a race, or races splitting the bonus into 4 x $100 bets, of your choice this season!