Ocean Park: Dux of the class
Four-year-old entire Ocean Park cut a swathe through a hustle of spring contenders in the Underwood Stakes. It was a flex in a player’s race, a test. He passed.
Residual winter fitness can’t carry you to an Underwood.
He is a Cox Plate horse, one that could better Jimmy Choux, another son of Thorn Park, performance in the WFA Championship. He is the one I want to be on.
Ocean Park with unbeaten three-year-old Pierro creates the intrigue in this edition.
Ocean Park didn’t just win the 2012 Underwood; he picked up and carried a field containing ten group one winners; Voila Ici, December Draw, Southern Speed, Sincero, Manighar, Zabeelionaire, Mawingo, Winchester, Sanagas and Niwot.
The replay shows Glen Boss on the corner pummelling. Ocean Park has little room to stride; Boss taut. The field swings, straightens.
Leader Voila Ici doesn’t collapse. He quickens. Boss plots a rails run, switches paths peeling off Voila Ici’s back inside of December Draw.
At the furlong Ocean Park is correctly balanced -within 11 seconds and change – he careers away. Enthralling.
History tells us the Underwood is a good horses race. Who wouldn’t want to be paying the bills for any of the horses below?
Underwood Stakes Winners (2000m Group 1)
2011 Lion Tamer
2010 So You Think
2009 Heart Of Dreams
2008 Weekend Hustler
2006 El Segundo
Ocean Park commenced his career in New Zealand building a resume strong enough to contend in the Sydney autumn.
He chased Mosheen in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) finishing eighth then Laser Hawk in the Rosehill (2000m) equivalent placing third. He not so much failed the test but missed the exam.
Prior to his return to these shores, Ocean Park sliced up the first group one in Australasia for the season taking out the 1400m Makfi Challenge Stakes. Starcraft won this race in 2004, as did Xcellent in 2005 and Tavistock in 2009.
A son of Thorn Park, Ocean Park could be the Lothario in waiting for antipodean mares. His career in the breeding barn on hold while there is racetrack dalliances to be had. The ladies can wait; trainer and part owner Gary Hennessy will ensure that.
Horse trainers are shape shifters. Mythological creatures walking a domain most of us never see. A wormhole or vortex may become exposed (usually either side of football seasons) allowing the world they inhabit to glut into our presence, mostly they go unnoticed.
Horse trainers live a clandestine existence eked out between hours when mortals are curled up in bed. Working in haunting shadows and dim lights, cold and fog in winter. Daylight (race day) they move forms, into suits mixing amongst the masses, media, punters, drunks, celebs and owners.
Gary Hennessy trainer of Ocean Park isn’t a shape shifter. He is what you see; a no frills New Zealand third generation horseman and a damn fine one.
A master equine tutor Hennessy is guiding an animal that could be the horse of the spring. You wont hear his trainer talking him up.
Hennessy is old school, Jack Denham or Beastie Boys. A man happy with his existence, one who doesn’t need to advertise wares to fill boxes at home.
Ocean Park is based at Caulfield for the spring. The horse was scheduled to gallop Tuesday morning. A problem. Hennessy didn’t want to watch from the trainer’s tower. There was the curse of the spring, cameras and microphones, worse journalists. Hennessy went to the grandstand to observe.
In a case of be careful what you wish for, a nearby substation melted causing Caulfield racetrack to lose all power. Hennessy missed seeing Ocean Park work on the course proper. Glen Boss would have to tell the media about the work.
Gai Waterhouse lays down the smack for the Pierro camp, she has rapped her colt from day zero. He is special, winning the Triple Crown as a two-year-old in Sydney. He may one day win a Melbourne Cup.
Not everyone saw Pierro work at Moonee Valley, but everyone heard about it.
Flemington clocker Warren Huntly timed Pierro, working in blinkers over 1200m, find his final 600m in 33.88sec the 400m in 21.35sec.
It wasn’t the test it wasn’t even cramming, simply excellent study. Pierro has the Guineas to lose and the Cox Plate to win.
The examination comes at the cauldron of Moonee Valley in two weeks time.
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