Cox Plate winner Ocean Park (NZ) will not race in Australia again this season following a change of plans by trainer Gary Hennessy.
With a huge international campaign mapped out for Ocean Park, quarantine issues will prevent the four-year-old from racing in Melbourne as originally planned.
Hennessy, a part-owner of Ocean Park, intended to give Ocean Park one start in Melbourne and then use the Werribee quarantine facilities to prepare for his trip to Dubai for the $5 million Duty Free (1700m) at Meydan on March 31.
Hennessy planned to give Ocean Park a month of training in quarantine at Werribee before leaving for Dubai but has had to cancel that plan as the facilities used by the international horses in Melbourne for the spring carnival will not be available.
Ocean Park will now serve his pre-Dubai quarantine confinement in New Zealand after a start in the G1 Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) at Otaki on February 23.
“Things got a bit complicated," Hennessy told the NZ Informant.
"I’ve decided that rather than head to Dubai for a lead-up run before the Duty Free, he can do that from home.
“He can have a trial or a couple of exhibition gallops before Otaki then fly to Dubai via Sydney with enough time to get over the trip and line up in the Duty Free.”
Ocean Park returned to training last week after rising to the top of the Australasian weight-for-age ranks with successive G1 wins in the Makfi Challenge Stakes, Underwood Stakes, Caulfield Stakes and Cox Plate.
He looked a jaded horse when he finished a flat third in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington a week after his hard fought Cox Plate win at Moonee Valley.
Kiwi jockey Lisa Allpress, Ocean Park’s jockey when he won the Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings, is already booked for the Otaki race but leading international Johnny Murtagh will take over when the horse arrives in Dubai.
"I’ve spoken with him (Murtagh) and he’s made himself available to ride trackwork in Dubai leading up to the Duty Free," Hennessy said.
From Dubai Hennessy plans to take Ocean Park to the UK and Ireland for G1 races including the Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot in June and the G1 Irish Champion Stakes at The Curragh.