Daring Dubai debut for finest racer
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.
All dressed up with somewhere to go: Ocean Park shows off the customised bodysuit he will wear on his travels.