Big race jockey Glen Boss has missed out on the chance to accompany Cox Plate winner Ocean Park on a Northern Hemisphere campaign with English ride Johnny Murtagh being confirmed to take over the reins.
Boss has been overlooked by trainer Gary Hennessy and Murtagh will get his first feel of the multiple Group 1 winner when he lands in Dubai to prepare for the Group 1 US$5m Dubai Duty Free (1800m) at Meydan on March 30.
“I’ve spoken to Johnnie Murtagh and he will stick with us right through,” Hennessy said.
Ocean Park was the star weight for age performer of the Melbourne Spring Carnival and Boss combined with the four year old to win three times at Group 1 level before going out with a third to Alcopop in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 3.
Previous to that Boss and Ocean Park took out the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 22 before winning the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 13.
The pair then combined to score a breathtaking win over three year old All Too Hard in the weight for age championship of Australasia, the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
Hennessy will run Ocean Park first up in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki on February 23 before heading to Dubai and then onto England where he will run at Royal Ascot in June.
“He’s been back in work a week and looks great. He’s thickened up and got stronger in the neck and shoulder,” Hennessy said.
“He’ll go to Dubai for the Duty Free. We’ll go on to Europe after Dubai. We have been invited to Royal Ascot where we have a few options, but probably the Queen Anne Stakes is the right race.”
The Group 1 £250,000 The Queen Anne Stakes over 1 mile is usually run on the first day of the Royal Ascot annual carnival and this year was taken out by the undefeated world’s number one racehorse Frankel.
Hennessy has arranged with Murtagh to meet Ocean Park in Dubai where he will get a feel of the top weight for age performer in trackwork before the Duty Free and then will stick with him in Europe.
Ocean Park has also been invited to race in Ireland in September on the Irish Champions Day at The Curragh and Hennessy said that it would be hard to pass up a chance of a lifetime.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime. We just want to enjoy the moment, enjoy racing him and enjoy the chance that so few people in racing get. It’s a dream come true,” Hennessy said.