Great Hast­ings win for Ocean Park

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - DEN­NIS RYAN Rac­ing colum­nist

Wayne and Vanessa Hil­lis got the ball rolling with a per­fect start to rac­ing last Satur­day and a Mata­mata­trained quinella in the first Group One fea­ture of the Aus­tralasian sea­son set the seal on a su­perb week­end of rac­ing.

The in­dis­putable star of the oc­ca­sion was the Gary Hen­nessy­trained Ocean Park, who proved just how tal­ented he is with a stun­ning win in the $200,000 Makfi Chal­lenge Stakes.

Sup­port roles came from the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Xanadu, who got to within half a length of Ocean Park, Karen Furs­don and Gemma Sliz, who gave Michelle Wenn her 500th ca­reer win, and the Hil­lis-trained pair that won the open­ing races at Satur­day’s Hast­ings and Tau­ranga race meet­ings.

To be­gin at the be­gin­ning, Kate made it wins from her last two starts when she beat a smart field of three-year-olds at Hast­ings, adding fur­ther im­pe­tus to a pro­posed trip to Mel­bourne for the VRC Oaks in early Novem­ber.

Wayne Hil­lis hardly had time to give the daugh­ter of New Zealand Derby win­ner St Reims a con­grat­u­la­tory pat than sta­ble­mate Per­fect Start had lived right up to her name with a lastto-first de­but win at Tau­ranga. Per­fect Start is a half-sis­ter to cur­rent Hil­lis sta­ble star Art Beat and an­other above av­er­age si­b­ling in Smartly.

Back at Hast­ings the Craw­fordSliz part­ner­ship pro­duced Inanoff for the win that Michelle Wenn had been look­ing for since tak­ing her ca­reer tally to 498 way back in June. A long, slow win­ter had pro­duced any num­ber of mi­nor plac­ings for the pop­u­lar jockey but just one fur­ther win in the first week of Au­gust, so it was with huge re­lief and well mea­sured sat­is­fac­tion that Inanoff pulled out a win­ning ef­fort on Satur­day.

So to the main event. With four locally trained run­ners in the Makfi Chal­lenge Stakes, Mata­mata stood a good chance of claim­ing a slice of the glory and the one-two re­sult by Ocean Park and Xanadu was a great way to kick off the 2012-13 fea­ture rac­ing cal­en­dar.

Per­haps one of the most telling sta­tis­tics is that Ocean Park was hav­ing just the eighth start of his ca­reer when he stormed through for Lisa All­press to claim his fourth win, while run­ner-up Xanadu is like­wise the ‘‘vet­eran’’ of just nine races.

Both new sea­son four-year-olds have it all in front of them, with Ocean Park now headed to Aus­tralia for the Mel­bourne spring carnival and Xanadu a lead­ing prospect to go one bet­ter in the sec­ond leg of the Hawke’s Triple Crown, the Wind­sor Park Plate on Septem­ber 22.

Ocean Park is sched­uled to have his first Mel­bourne start on the same day, with the Un­der­wood Stakes at Caulfield the pre­lude to a pos­si­ble start in Aus­trala­sia’s most fa­mous weightfor-age race, the A$3 mil­lion Cox Plate at Moonee Val­ley on Oc­to­ber 27.

Satur­day’s win went a long way to eras­ing the dis­ap­point­ment that Gary Hen­nessy and his Hong Kong co-own­ers An­drew Wong and Steve Yan ex­pe­ri­enced when Ocean Park ricked a joint on the eve of the Aus­tralian Derby in the au­tumn.

No doubt about it, the valu­able colt is back bet­ter than be­fore and ready to take on the best that Aus­tralian can of­fer.

Photo: TR­ISH DUNELL

Team Ocean Park: Gary and Jenny Hen­nessy, Ja­panese groom Yota Hori and son Shane pose with their Makfi Stakes win­ner Ocean Park at Hast­ings on Satur­day.

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