Ocean Park (NZ) won an outstanding renewal of the $3m Group 1, WFA Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday defeating a valiant run by the three-year-old Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard by a neck, with the Golden Slipper winner Pierro third a further 3 3/4L away.
Ocean Park (NZ) and Glen Boss, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
The race was a triumph for trainer Gary Hennessy and in particular jockey Glen Boss who was convinced that the Thorn Park four-year-old entire had the ability to win the Cox Plate, and in doing so becoming the first horse ever to win four Group 1 races in succession culminating in the Cox Plate.
Ocean Park is also only the sixth winner of the Underwood Stakes, Caulfield Stakes and Cox Plate treble.
It was also fitting for Thorn Park, who stands at Windsor Park Stud, as the sire narrowly missed having the Cox Plate on the record of his progeny’s winners when Jimmy Choux (NZ) was second last year to Pinker Pinker. The sire has had to be withdrawn from service this season due to laminitis, and he now has sired the winner of the pinnacle of weight-for-age racing in Australasia.
There was the usual rush for the lead with three-year-old Proisir and Craig Newitt winning the charge as the swung into the side straight followed by, surprisingly, Ethiopia and Rhys McLeod, and Happy Trials and Kerrin McEvoy.
More Joyous and Nash Rawiller were fourth and three-year-old Pierro and Corey Brown fifth. The other three-year-old All Too Hard, under Chris Munce, was sixth entering the side straight but quickly improved to third on the rails. Ocean Park and Boss were back in 10th.
Proisir took the field at a moderate pace into and down the back straight and the action did not start until 600m from the line. Boss sent Ocean Park away on a wide run looping the field and by the 400m the race had changed complexion.
Proisir started to feel the run, but All Too Hard was right there at the front, and then he was joined by Ocean Park, who had rapidly put the rest of the field to the sword, on the outside.
The two then raced away from the rest of the field. The raw three-year-old on the inside with 49.5kg under Munce, and the experienced four-year-old entire with 57.5kg under Boss on the outside.
Ocean Park went to the lead but the Hawkes trained All Too Hard (Casino Prince) did not give in and the colt tried very hard to stay with the older horse, but in the end it was Ocean Park’s victory and the undoubted status of the best of his generation at 2000m and weight-for-age.
The $4.50 favourite Pierro (Lonhro) was gallant in third place with Ethiopia just as gallant in fourth. Shoot Out was fifth and Southern Speed sixth. More Joyous faded to 11th.
The time was 2.04.14 on the Dead 4 track with the final 600m in 36.86. Ocean Park paid $6.50 on TAB.com.au and $6.00 on Fixed Odds.
Ocean Park (NZ) and All Too Hard (gold), picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
“It’s great and I’m really pleased for all of New Zealand,” said Hennessy.
“Glen has been singing this horse’s praises and if you haven’t been listening then too bad. We set a plan way back in the autumn and today was huge.
“It is a huge thrill for Andrew (Wong) and Steve (Yan) to be here today and we’ve got ourselves a really lovely horse and today he has proved that he is the best weigh-for-age horse in Australasia
“We will probably back up in the Mackinnon because the horse did so well in between starts and he has just really thrived.
“Nothing has fazed him and we were just really confident going into this race.
“Glen Boss, he is a champion,” he said.
“It feels like my greatest achievement in this sport so far. I know I’ve done some wonderful things but I’ve been in this colt’s corner the whole time and there’s been doubters but I kept saying he is a winner,” said Boss
“He just wants to win; he just wants to beat whatever is in front of him.
“Full credit to Johnny Hawkes’ colt, he gave me a really good race and he was a really good horse on the day.
“My horse doesn’t care what time they run, he doesn’t care what’s in front of him, he just wants to beat them and once he gets there he just switches off.
“I pencilled this horse in after the Rosehill guineas and said this is a star and I kept telling people that when this horse comes back next preparation must watch because he is a serious racehorse.
“When you’re in their corner the whole time and you keep telling everyone that this is the horse, everyone wants to pick you to pieces and find ways to get you beat.
“He should’ve won his last six races all at Group 1 level.
“The tempo was good but he blew the start for me a touch and I was always going to try to ride him back.
“I wanted to be the hunter today because when he is the hunted he is probably not as impressive so I thought I would do the stalking today.
“I got on the back of Green Moon but he looked like he wasn’t going to take me anywhere so I got outside him and ripped past him and once he saw the bunny when he straightened up he just let go," he said.
“I am absolutely delighted to be here to share the victory of Ocean Park,” said part-owner Andrew Wong.
“Glen has an amazing chemistry with Ocean Park.”
Peter Beer, CEO of Patinack Farm, was delighted with the performance of their colt who now has an impeccable record for stud of backing up from his Guineas win with the Cox Plate second.
“To get that close and to run like that is fantastic,” he said.
Gai Waterhouse said that her trio would all go to the paddock and that she was particularly proud of Pierro’s run after his hard campaign.
“He has come to the end of his preparation and he was gallant, and he was still finding the line. He (Brown) said when he got off that he had no problem getting the 2000m,” she said.
Glen Boss salutes, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
Ocean Park, out of the Zabeel mare Sayyida, came into the race after wins in the Group 1 Makfi Stakes over 1400m at Hastings on September 1st, Then followed the Group 1 double at Caulfield of the Underwood Stakes over 1800m on September 22nd and the Caulfield Stakes over 2000m on October 13th.
Overall his record for co-owners Hennessy, Wong and Yan is an outstanding seven wins from 11 starts and three second places. Stakes are now $2,552,125.
Full result of the Cox Plate