Wanganui jockey Lisa Allpress was flabbergasted yesterday when told she may be in the mix to ride Matamata galloping sensation Ocean Park in his international campaign next year.
The story broke on the racing pages of the New Zealand Herald's website. When contacted by the Wanganui Chronicle, it was the first she had heard.
"Really, you're not pulling my leg are you? You ring Gary [trainer and part-owner Hennessy] now and tell him I've already got my bags packed," Allpress said.
The website story said Victorian jockey Glen Boss was no certainty to retain the ride on Ocean Park during his globetrotting odyssey with Hennessy, considering Kiwi riders.
With Ocean Park's status as a future stallion already secured in Australasia, Hennessy, a part-owner, is keen to promote his brilliant galloper to the Northern Hemisphere, opening up the possibility of becoming a shuttle-stallion.
Ocean Park's spectacular spring carnival netted him four straight group one wins, including the Cox Plate.
Plans are already in motion for an overseas odyssey that will include a trip to Dubai on World Cup Night and England's Royal Ascot.
Boss, who rode Ocean Park in all four runs in Melbourne, will be thrown into the mix on a list that will also include Kiwi jockeys Opie Bosson, Leith Innes and Allpress among others.
"We've got a few good riders in New Zealand at the moment and they could do the job if required," Hennessy told the Herald Sun. "A decision hasn't been made yet but we have a few options."
Allpress impressed when guiding the Thorn Park entire through an inside run along the inner to win the group one Makfi Challenge at Hastings before Ocean Park headed to Australia, but she had yet to hear from Hennessy about any possible engagement.
"I certainly haven't heard from Gary yet, but I'd love to ride the horse overseas. I better get that bag of carrots up to Gary," she joked.
"Funnily enough, I was just talking to one of my best friends, who works for the Godolphin stable in Dubai. She mentioned Ocean Park was meant to be coming and that I should come for a holiday." That friend was former Kiwi jockey Vicki Costa.
The US$5 million Dubai Duty Free (1800m), to be run on March 30, will be Ocean Park's main goal, with a start in Australia first-up to kick off the campaign.
"His win in the Underwood Stakes was second-up and we will look to replicate that when we go to Dubai," Hennessy said.
"I'm not too sure where his first start will be, ideally over 1400m in Australia.
"Dubai is the main aim, that is where we want him to be at his peak."
Hennessy is also keen to race at Royal Ascot, with the Queen Anne Stakes (1609m) or Prince of Wales Stakes (2012m), which was won by So You Think last year, his targets.
"While the prizemoney is far more rewarding in Hong Kong and Australia, the prestige that comes with winning European group races is worth travelling for," he said.