Ocean Em­peror de­liv­ers with big win

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - DEN­NIS RYAN

Ocean Em­peror de­liv­ered on the faith his trainer Gary Hen­nessy has al­ways held in him when he won the $100,000 Gartshore Tau­ranga Stakes on Satur­day.

That be­lief goes back be­yond an 800-me­tre trial as a two-yearold in the au­tumn of 2014 and a race­day de­but that he like­wise won later the same year.

Ocean Em­peror was in fact on Gary’s radar well be­fore then, as a mem­ber of Waikato Stud’s year­ling draft for the Karaka sales in early 2013.

At the time he and his Hong Kong part­ners An­drew Wong and Steve Yan were bask­ing in the glory of Ocean Park’s su­perb 2012 spring cam­paign that had be­gun in Septem­ber with vic­tory in the Makfi Chal­lenge Stakes. He took that form to Mel­bourne for two fur­ther Group One wins and capped it all with vic­tory in the A$3 mil­lion Cox Plate, 2013 Horse of the Year hon­ours and a deal to stand him at Waikato Stud.

Be­ing cashed up as they were, the Ocean Park trio rein­vested in the same sale-ring they had sourced Ocean Park from as a $150,000 year­ling in 2010. This time round they had to go to $450,000 for the Zabeel colt that Gary Hen­nessy de­scribed as a car­bon copy of his pre­de­ces­sor, but it’s an in­vest­ment they are now fi­nally reap­ing.

The sat­is­fac­tion for Gary in Satur­day’s win was un­der­stand­ably huge for a horse that has had any num­ber of set­backs dur­ing his ca­reer; from shin sore­ness while still imma- ture to a se­ri­ous foot ab­scess that ne­ces­si­tated nearly two years on the side­line.

‘‘He was a lovely colt when we bought him and from the time he won his first two-year-old trial his abil­ity has been pretty ob­vi­ous,’’ he said. ‘‘Then to see him come back af­ter 20 months and win at Taranaki ear­lier this year, that showed just how good he is, so none of what he’s done re­ally sur­prises me.’’

Now a six-year-old but still with only 16 races on the clock, af­ter Satur­day’s Group Two win at Tau­ranga Ocean Em­peror will take another big step up the lad­der to the Gr. 1 Zabeel Clas­sic at Eller­slie on Boxing Day.

‘‘He’s proven him­self at weight-for-age so that’s pretty much where he’ll be rac­ing from now,’’ Gary said. ‘‘I don’t think I’ll run him again be­fore the Zabeel Clas­sic, maybe give him a trial some­where and I could also look at a gal­lop be­tween races at the lo­cal meet­ing the week be­fore.’’

Be­yond the race­track, a stud ca­reer awaits the son of one of our truly great stal­lions. Zabeel mir­rored the achieve­ments of his own great sire Sir Tris­tram and now through his cham­pion sire son Sav­abeel and oth­ers, the line con­tin­ues to be an in­dis­pens­able part of the New Zealand breed­ing land­scape.


Gary Hen­nessy and his Tau­ranga Stakes win­ner Ocean Em­peror.

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