Ocean Park shop­ping in Dubai

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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.’’

Photo: TR­ISH DUNELL

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.

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