Ocean Park shopping in Dubai
but I don’t see that as a problem,’’ said Gary.
‘‘When I stayed at Aquanita in Melbourne I boarded up his whole box and it’s basically the same here at home. I’ve looked at everything and simulated things to cover all the bases.’’
While Ocean Park has taken Saturday’s race in his stride, the same could not exactly be said of his trainer.
‘‘I haven’t slept that well the last two nights,’’ Gary admitted to the Chronicle on Monday.
‘‘The horse doesn’t know how much planning and organising has to go into a trip like this – that’s my job.
‘‘Everything that has to be done has been going through my head but that’s all part of it.
‘‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to what’s ahead though.’’
Big race jockey Johnny Murtagh, an Irishman who has ridden successfully in all major northern hemisphere jurisdictions, was in contact with Gary soon after Saturday’s race.
‘‘Johnny sent his congratulations and said ‘I’ll see you in Dubai’. He’s ready and waiting,’’ Gary said.
Beyond Dubai plans for Ocean Park include the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot carnival in June, with a trip to France to possibly follow and, in a best case scenario, a race at Ireland’s Leopardstown racecourse in September his final target.
‘‘It’s very exciting to think that we’ll be flying the flag and showing the world what a horse from down here is capable of,’’ says Gary, who intends being absent throughout the campaign, with his wife Jenny travelling from New Zealand as she can.
‘‘Jenny’s a big part of this and hopefully with just a handful in work at home through the winter she’ll be able to make it up there for the big occasions. We’ve both worked hard for years and to now have such a fantastic chance we intend making the most if it. We both realise it’s the chance of a lifetime.’’
While not on the same level as Ocean Park’s big victory, Ellerslie on Saturday was also the scene of a notable win by Joey Massino, the favourite member of the Peter and Jacob McKay team after returning from career-threatening injury.
The O’Reilly six-year-old led throughout to win the Novotel Mile, choosing the day well given it coincided with the 20th birthday of his junior trainer.
‘‘He’s just a neat horse, like a family pet,’’ said Jacob, who has trained in partnership with his father Peter since the beginning of the season.
‘‘I learnt to ride on him when he was a two-year-old and now he’s teaching my brother Sean.’’
Dubai here we come: Ocean Park and rider Leith Innes are escorted back to scale by Jenny Hennessy (right) and Kate Hercock after their New Zealand Stakes victory at Ellerslie on Saturday.