Dar­ing Dubai de­but for finest racer

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

landed. The Dubai Duty Free is just stage one of an ex­ten­sive north­ern hemi­sphere cam­paign, which con­tin­ues in Europe with the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal As­cot in early June, fol­lowed by pos­si­ble as­sign­ments in France and Ire­land.

‘‘It’s all very ex­cit­ing and I’d be ly­ing if I said I wasn’t look­ing for­ward to it, so here goes,’’ said Gary as he pre­pared to pack his bags.

While the Ocean Park team was mak­ing fi­nal plans for their trip of a life­time, last sea­son’s cham­pion trainer John Sar­gent was tak­ing an­other step in set­ting up a base at Syd­ney’s War­wick Farm train­ing cen­tre.

The move to es­tab­lish an alternative to his Mata­mata sta­ble of the past decade had al­ready been flagged last year and has be­gun with some pleas­ing re­sults, but then splash head­lines ap­peared in na­tional news­pa­pers late last week sug­gest­ing that John was all but turn­ing his back on New Zealand rac­ing.

He sub­se­quently re­tracted some of the sug­ges­tions con­tained in the report em­a­nat­ing from Syd­ney, stat­ing that he still in­tended to be part of the lo­cal rac­ing scene, which in­cluded pre­par­ing horses lo­cally be­fore send­ing them across the Tas­man.

It was there­fore dis­con­cert­ing to read a fol­low-up head­line ar­ti­cle in a Sun­day news­pa­per that in­cluded quotes from John as be­ing highly crit­i­cal of the lack of government sup­port for rac­ing and the in­ac­tion of rac­ing’s own gov­ern­ing bod­ies to pro­vide a bet­ter deal for par­tic­i­pants.

In essence he was say­ing that he felt he had no alternative but to up stakes and train in Aus­tralia.

All I’ll say in re­sponse to that ap­proach is that, for bet­ter or worse, the New Zealand rac­ing in­dus­try is what it is. It’s not per­fect and not ev­ery­one in­volved is mak­ing a quid.

But ev­ery­one has free­dom of choice, which is a ticket to any­one to train where they so choose, be that in New Zealand or else­where.

Photo: TR­ISH DUNELL

All dressed up with some­where to go: Ocean Park shows off the cus­tomised body­suit he will wear on his trav­els.

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