Oceanex winning the Listed Port Adelaide Cup (2500m). Photo: Atkins Photography
Kiwi-bred mare Oceanex (NZ) (Ocean Park) will be out to secure a golden ticket into the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr-trained four-year-old will contest the Listed The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) with the winner receiving ballot exemption for the race that stops a nation.
Her connections are heading into the race with plenty of confidence after the Ocean Park mare’s triumph in the Listed Port Adelaide Cup (2500m) at Morphettville last start.
“It was a fantastic win,” Kent said. “I don’t think it was a strong race class-wise but she did display a good staying performance, which is really important for us to see.
“The way she was three-wide early and still stayed on really strongly at the finish gives us confidence that she will stay the trip on Saturday.
“The race lacks a bit of depth on Saturday, but there are two or three to beat there that are classier than what she faced last time.”
Oceanex has drawn the ace barrier for Saturday’s contest and Kent is hoping she can keep her winning streak at Flemington intact.
“It looks like it is going to be a nice race for her,” he said. “She has drawn one and can relax.
“It looks like there could be some decent speed on with Runaway and Too Close The Sun. She is unbeaten at Flemington and I think her work has improved.
“We are really happy with her going into this one, she is spot on. We can’t have her any better and I am really looking forward to it.”
Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Oceanex is likely to head to the spelling paddock, however, Saturday’s result will dictate which path she takes in the spring.
“If we win the race we’ll put a circle around the Melbourne Cup, it’s a golden ticket. If she weren’t to win she’ll head to the spelling paddock anyway with a view to the spring,” Kent said.
“She is probably going to have four weeks in the paddock and then come back in to work. The fact that she did stay the trip last time opens up the options for us this spring around the majors.
“There are plenty of Group class staying events, like the Moonee Valley (Gr.2, 2500m) and Geelong Cups (Gr.3, 2400m). An obvious one is the Matriarch (Gr.2, 2000m), which she won last year.
“But hopefully we are winning on Saturday and planning towards the Melbourne Cup.”
Oceanex was purchased out of Milan Park’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling draft by Price for $70,000.
Meanwhile, in Adelaide, Kent is hoping consistent mare Seabrook (NZ) (Hinchinbrook) can finally end her losing streak in the Gr.3 Robert and Fay Gerard R A Lee Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
The New Zealand-bred mare has placed in all three of her starts this preparation, including a last-start runner-up performance in the Gr.2 Queen Of The South Stakes (1600m), but hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since her victory in the Gr.1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) as a juvenile.
Kent is hoping that will change this weekend and he believes the conditions of the race ideally suit his mare.
“She is racing in great fashion without winning. She keeps building her pedigree with Group Two placings,” he said.
“She is really well weighted on Saturday. There is a seven kilogram turnaround between her and Shrouded In Mist, so she gets in well.
“From that draw (11) we will end up rolling forward and end up in the first four or five.
“She is racing in great form. There are some promising types in the race, but she is certainly one of the key chances in the race.”
If she performs well on Saturday a trip to Queensland could be in the offing.
“We have put a circle around the Queensland Carnival,” Kent said. “There’s no Tatt’s Tiara (Gr.1, 1400m) on this year unfortunately but there is still the Dane Ripper which is a Group Two, 1400m, in June.
“So we will just get her home after the weekend and then plan on getting her up there.”