Waikato Stud would seem a fitting new home for Cox Plate winner Ocean Park, seeing as he was bred, born, raised and trained in Waikato.
The Matamata studfarm yesterday revealed it had secured the Thorn Park stallion for stud duties after that information was initially leaked on twitter before the stud was ready to make the public announcement.
His service fee was yesterday set at $30,000 plus GST.
Bred by Trelawney Stud's Brent Taylor and trained by Matamata's Gary Hennessy, Ocean Park developed into one of New Zealand's finest racehorses, showcasing his exceptional ability last spring with a sequence of four Gr I weight-for-age wins, culminating in the A$3 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
He returned for a late summer and autumn campaign, winning the Gr I New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie last month before embarking on a northern hemisphere campaign that never really got off the ground after he was found to have injured a tendon in finishing unplaced in the Gr I Dubai Duty Free (1800m) at Meydan.
There was significant interest from Australasian studfarms keen to secure Ocean Park for his breeding career, but the powerhouse Waikato Stud won out, adding further depth to a stallion roster headed by the likes of star sires Savabeel, O'Reilly and Pins.
Waikato Stud's Mark Chittick has fully syndicated the five-time Gr I winner among several New Zealand studfarms, including Trelawney Stud, and his racing owners Andrew Wong, Steve Yan and Hennessy.
"Horses the calibre of Ocean Park don't come along every day and when they do, you have to do all you can to secure them," Chittick said.
"These are the horses that are the next chapter for New Zealand's breeding industry and this is why we were wonderfully supported by many of New Zealand's leading breeders. We could not have struck this deal without them."
Ocean Park was retired earlier this month with a record of eight wins from 15 starts for earnings of $3.67 million. He remains a warm favourite to win horse of the year honours this season, though Saturday's Australian Derby winner Dundeel is snapping at his heels.
"In his five Gr I wins alone, he beat 29 individual Gr I winners who had won an amazing 67 Gr I races," Chittick said.
"Gr I winners left in his wake include Pierro, All Too Hard, More Joyous, Mufhasa, Veyron, Shoot Out, Manighar, Green Moon, Sincero, Southern Speed, Alcopop, December Draw, Guiseppina and Xanadu. This is the sort of horse we need to stand to keep New Zealand's position in the international market."
Ocean Park is currently in quarantine in England and will arrive back in New Zealand at the end of May, with Chittick saying his injury would not impact on him beginning his stud career at the beginning of September.
Hennessy was thrilled Ocean Park would remain closeby at Waikato Stud for the next phase of his career.
"It's been a fabulous ride with him and we are so pleased to have struck a deal with Waikato Stud, who are literally just down the road from me. I know he'll get every chance under their management," Hennessy said.
Ocean Park is the second son of Thorn Park to go to stud in New Zealand after horse of the year Jimmy Choux, who began stud duties at Matamata's Rich Hill Stud earlier this season.
Ocean Park's dam is the classy Zabeel mare Sayyida, whose dam Eastern Princess is a three-quarter sister to champion Waikato Stud-owned racehorse and stallion O'Reilly and the granddam of Gr I Easter Handicap winner and New Zealand Derby-placed Prince Kaapstad. Among the other star performers in the maternal family are the Waikato Stud-bred and raced Gr I Otaki Weight-For-Age winner Critic, triple Gr I winner Our Pompeii and O'Reilly's Golden Slipper-winning dam Hunza Court.
"Ocean Park fits beautifully within the stud's sire selection critieria and comes from a proven family that Waikato Stud has already enjoyed tremendous success with," Chittick said.
Ocean Park joins Gr I-winning Fastnet Rock stallion Rock 'n' Pop as new sires for next season at Waikato Stud, taking its stallion roster to eight.
Chittick said construction work on new stallion boxes would begin at the stud next week.
Waikato Stud has also bought into Gr I-winning O'Reilly colt Sacred Falls, who is likely to go to stud as a five-year-old next year.
Sacred Falls contests Saturday's A$2 million Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
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