2012 Cox Plate winner Ocean Park’s Kiwi heritage on show
New Zealand is famous for three things: rugby players, murdering the English language and horse people. I don’t know if Gary Hennessy directed traffic from fly half but he does a pretty fair job with the latter two.
New Zealanders love three things, beating Australia at anything, Australian dollars and Bondi Beach.
I hope I never see Ocean Parks trainer Garry Hennessy in budgie smugglers swanning along Bondi’s shore but he’s pretty good with the former two.
New Zealand racing is in the doldrums, crowds and interest are down and Saturday prize money in the shaky isles is the equivalent of Thursday at Bendigo.
Before he left New Zealand, Ocean Park won the first of his four successive group one wins in the 1400m Mafki Challenge, the winners purse $95,108. In the 2012 edition of William Samuel’s Cox Plate race, he won a handsome $1.8 million.
If Australia ever wanted to annex New Zealand, bring all the business and industry west. Leave the horses and the people who look after them, like a twin island Kentucky or Hunter Valley.
In some ways this is what New Zealand does, breed horses for the rest of the southern hemisphere. Gary Hennessy like many (all) New Zealand trainers trade in bloodstock. It’s a sound business practice. Buy or breed, train the youngster up, win a race sell to clients in Asian markets, Hong Kong, Singapore or Macau.
The philosophy is simple; you never go broke making a profit.
When someone like Garry Hennessy decides to keep hold of one to race he must be a serious horse.
At the end of Ocean Parks 3yo season there would have been seven figures on the table. Or the owners could have taken the option of racing the horse in the former colony.
Ocean Park would be the perfect horse for a Hong Kong businessman to lead back to scale. Hong Kong racing is as much about winning as the notoriety that comes with it. In a social climbing society the male Louis Vuitton handbag is a class one galloper.
All credit to Hennessy; he knew what he had in his stable. With Ocean Park’s Sydney autumn campaign ending in tears the trainer backed his judgment, setting the son of Thorn Park for the Cox Plate.
Three group one wins still had Ocean Park on the third line of betting leading into the Cox Plate. It’s a raindrop to Botany Bay, Ocean Park would have been 5/2 if trained by PG Moody or Mrs. G Waterhouse, and not the 6/1 he started.
More Joyous lost the race at the barrier draw; Ocean Park won the race at the three-furlong pole.
This was a truly run race, Ethiopia and the 3yo’s made sure the foot was down from the jump. The field strung out in pairs a sure sign of a slick cadence.
Ethiopia went at the half mile, the 3yo’s moved with him trying to utilise their lightweight. From worse than mid-field, Craig Williams riding the favourite Green Moon made his run.
Boss knowing, tacked on board.
Within the space of 200m the race changed completely. Boss sensing Green Moon to be struggling made a split second decision to come off his back to make his own run.
The pivotal move the metamorphosis between losing and winning.
Ocean Park ran the last 600m in 35.86, runner up All To Hard in 36.55. If Boss had of waited any longer he might not have had the .04 seconds advantage on the line.
Ocean Park is the first New Zealand winner since Sunline who went back to back in 1999 / 2000. Both won their first Cox Plate at 6/1 although the similarities might not end there.
Trevor McKee let his mare do the talking, and well with that Kiwi accent I’d prefer it that way.
- Horse Racing