Ocean Emperor delivers with big win
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.