Woodlands trainer Robert Dennis will take a handful of runners to Wingatui’s annual Boxing Day meeting on Sunday, including Ocean Point who will tackle the Listed Alleviate Administration Hazlett Stakes (1200m).
The four-year-old mare heads into the race in good form, winning her first two starts this preparation over 1200m before running fourth over 1400m at Cromwell last start.
“She went super (in her first two runs),” Dennis said.
“It would appear 1200m is more her go. She likes to push forward and be out of trouble.
“She did feel the pinch a little bit in the end last time over 1400m. That was just to bridge the gap between Cup Week and the Hazlett Stakes.
“She had 10 days out in the paddock (after Cromwell), a nice little freshen-up to get her ready for Boxing Day.
“She looks to have come up the right way.”
The daughter of Ocean Park will jump from barrier two on Sunday and carry 53kg, with jockey Krishna Mudhoo aboard.
“It is a perfect draw with a nice, light weight,” Dennis said.
“She has had three starts over 1200m at Wingatui for three wins, leading all the way each time.
“We won’t look to deviate too much from those tactics.”
All going to plan after Sunday, Ocean Point will head north to Trentham next month to contest the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m).
“She is nominated for the Telegraph, and the Hazlett Stakes in the last few years has been a very good form race for the Telegraph,” Dennis said.
“If she goes well on Sunday I wouldn’t be afraid to have a crack at that.”
Ocean Point performed well last season in the Southern Guineas Series and Dennis is hoping her stablemate The Radiant One is up to the task this season.
The Darci Brahma filly will line-up in the Grand Casino 2 & 3YO (1200m) on Sunday and Dennis is expecting a bold showing despite it being two months between runs.
“The Radiant One is two months between runs after running fourth in the Barneswood Farm Stakes (Gr.3, 1400m),” he said.
“She went super there but she is still learning. She had a month off after that and has come up the right way. I expect her to run a very good race.
“She will target the Guineas series down here. Ocean Point and The Gift were there or thereabouts right through those races last year so hopefully we can back-up again this season and do it again.”
Dennis is also looking forward to the debut of The Cluster in the Be My Guest Maiden (1400m).
“He is a nice, big, strong horse by Ghibellines. He is a great looking animal,” Dennis said.
“He has shown a fair bit but still has a bit to learn, it is very hard to teach them in the jumpouts down here. I will be disappointed if he is not finishing the race off really nice.”
Stablemate Savezar will make the jump up to open grade in the Positive Signs (2200m) and Dennis said he will be able to get a line on his mare following the race.
“She won well in a Rating 65 two weeks ago at Invercargill,” Dennis said.
“She jumps from Rating 65 to Open Class, which is a massive jump and there are some pretty hardy stayers in the race, but she seems to be doing things right and she seems to like the life here in Woodlands, she has been in great form since she has come down here.”
Dennis’ final two runners assured of a start on Sunday are The Ace in the ODT Southern Mile Qualifier (1600m) and Make Believe in the Busy Bees Dunedin (1200m).
“The Ace is in 74 grade and jumps up from 1200m to a mile for the first time. The mile should suit, he was run off his feet a bit last time,” Dennis said.
“It is a reasonably strong field so we will see how he goes.
“Make Believe went well at Invercargill. She has previously gone her best races at Riccarton.
“She is drawn (7) to get an okay run with a nice, relaxed rider in Dan Bothamley. We will see how the pattern of the day works out as to how we ride her. We may look to sit a little bit further back with her.”
Make Believe could be met by stablemate Choux In on Sunday, and Dennis believes if the Jimmy Choux mare can make her way into the field from third on the ballot, she would be his best chance of the day.
“She is second-up off the back of a good three-year-old season,” he said.
“She was unlucky last time, she did it to herself a little bit, she shied away from the running rail and lost her momentum. She has gone the right way since and if she gets in I am picking she will be very hard to beat.
“If she doesn’t get in she will probably have to go to Riverton on New Year’s Day. It is hard with the rating system down here. With Rating 65s there is always a glut on the bigger days.
“She has got 62 points and ends up third on the ballot, so it is pretty tough.”