Matamata trainer Gary Hennessy sees a number of similarities in Tarzino Trophy (1400m) hopeful Ocean Emperor and his five-time group one-winning galloper Ocean Park.
It is six years since Hennessy prepared Ocean Park to win the Hastings group one, then known as the Makfi Challenge Stakes, which was a pre-cursor to the entire winning three group one races in Melbourne during the spring of 2012, including the Cox Plate (2040m).
A seven-year-old entire by Zabeel, Ocean Emperor missed much of his three and four-year-old seasons with a hoof injury, but the dual group two winner is making up for lost time.
Ocean Emperor prepared for Saturday's contest, for which he is rated a $12 chance, with two impressive trial victories at Te Teko and then Taupo, leaving a host of weight-for-age gallopers in his wake.
To be ridden by Shaun McKay, Ocean Emperor has led in both trials, but Hennessy said the horse would not necessarily play pacemaker.
"The beauty of him is he's got good gate speed and he's able to take a posy and settle. If he gets a little bit of cover he's got a huge turn of foot, he could really explode onto the scene like he did in the two group two races that he has won."
Ocean Emperor could embark on further travel, with Hennessy keen to replicate Ocean Park's successful Melbourne campaign. "If he can run a really good race and run in the first three, I think we'll go straight to the Underwood like we did with Ocean Park.
"The step up to 1800m from 1400m will suit. He's always looked like he can get a trip. He's easy to train. He's very similar to Ocean Park, he's like a clone really. It's just unfortunate he missed his three-year-old career and didn't get that racing experience."
Open WFA G1
1. 8139X Jon Snow (13) 59 Matthew Cameron $6.50 $2.40
2. 155X0 Start Wondering (8) 59 Leith Innes $19 $5.80
3. 27X40 Close Up (2) 59 $20 $5.80
4. 3X144 Hiflyer (4) 59 Johnathan Parkes $6.20 $2.30
5. 349X3 Authentic Paddy (14) 59 Troy Harris $37 $9.20
6. 0417X Ocean Emperor (7) 59 Shaun McKay $10.50 $3.50
7. 150X6 Seventh Up (12) 59 Grant Cooksley $37 $9.20
8. 2340X Son Of Maher (16) 59 Sam Weatherley $71 $13
9. 4946X Wyndspelle (6) 59 Jason Waddell $35 $8.80
10. 1141X Scott Base (10) 58.5 Vinnie Colgan $6.50 $2.40
11. X4155 Underthemoonlight (15) 57 Cameron Lammas $16 $5
12. X1110 New York Minute (17) 57 Jonathan Riddell $29 $7.80
13. 1121X Our Abbadean (3) 57 Rosie Myers $76 $14
14. 1131X Sensible Princess (18) 57 Lisa Allpress $10.50 $3.50
15. 159X1 Melody Belle (9) 56.5 Shafiq Rusof $4.80 $1.95
16. 3115X Savvy Coup (11) 56.5 Chris Johnson $19 $5.80
17. X30X4 Francaletta (5) 57 $9.80 $3.10
18. 2910X Magnum (1) 59 $66 $16
- NZ Racing Desk