Racing: Ocean Park to trial at Te Teko

By Michael Guerin

Ocean Park (outer) kicks off his campaign at Te Teko trials today. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Ocean Park (outer) kicks off his campaign at Te Teko trials today. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Gary Hennessy has a veiled warning for punters backing Ocean Park for the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown.

The Matamata trainer says there are no guarantees his exceptional galloper will even make it to all, or any, of the Hastings races.

Ocean Park makes his first public outing of his new campaign at the Te Teko trials today, competing in a 1000m catchweight heat, with newly crowned premier jockey Lisa Allpress in the saddle.

Hennessy is pleased with the 4-year-old's condition but will be happy with a comfortable gallop as the track may be wetter than Ocean Park likes.

Track conditions are also Hennessy's main concern for the spring, hence his reluctance to commit to a racing programme.

"I'm not making any plans for his first race until I see how he comes through this trial," he told the Herald.

"But even then things will be determined by the weather.

"He is not a wet track horse so if he looks like having wet tracks here he could head to Australia earlier."

Ocean Park is nominated for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate but also holds nominations for all three legs of the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown, which starts with the Makfi Challenge Stakes on September 1.

The TAB rates him a $9 chance in that 1400m event but that is sprinting against the likes of Mufhasa.

Once he gets out to the 1600m of the Windsor Park Plate (September 22) or the Spring Classic (2040m) on October 6, Ocean Park's odds shorten into $5.

As good as he is, and he looked something quite special on occasions last season, Ocean Park isn't value at those odds if a wet September could see him scurrying off to Melbourne.

If and when he does make it to Australia, Hennessy is thinking Glen Boss, who rode Ocean Peak to his half-neck second in the Rosehill Guineas on March 31, will be his jockey.

Ocean Park isn't the only big name taking its first steps on the new campaign trail at Te Teko today, with Warhorse also entered for a 1000m catchweight, while Graham Richardson's powerful trio of Green Supreme, Singled Minded and Villifye add some more star power to the day.

Green Supreme is being aimed at the first two legs of the triple crown before Richardson decides whether to extend him to 2040m for the Spring Classic or stay at 1600m for the Toorak at Caulfield. Mark Du Plessis has been booked to ride him over the spring.

One horse definitely being aimed at the Toorak is Mufhasa, who is the $3.50 favourite for the Makfi Challenge.

He has pleased trainer Steven McKee in the early stages of his latest preparation and is ahead of where he would usually be in early August.

"I wanted to get him up and ready in case we struck some wet weather and lost a bit of fitness," said McKee.

"But he is right where he needs to be at the moment and has handled the winter work well."

Mufhasa is likely to gallop between races at Ruakaka on August 22.

"He definitely won't need a trial so a gallop at Ruakaka 10 days out for the Makfi should get him spot on."

Meanwhile, McKee's exciting 3-year-old filly Pussy Willow, who is being set for a Sydney campaign, could resume at Taupo on August 20.

- NZ Herald

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