Fresh off watching I’m Thunderstruck dash home for second in the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) last weekend, OTI Management chief Terry Henderson is hoping some fellow Kiwi-breds can hoist the syndicators silks aloft over the coming week.
Excitement is building amongst the syndicate members as the Melbourne Cup carnival heats up at Flemington, while OTI has a strong presence at Rosehill on Saturday.
Their runners are headlined by Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) contender Daqiansweet Junior, who has flown under the radar in the lead-up to the race that stops a nation next Tuesday.
The two-mile test is nothing new to the son of Sweet Orange, who ran home well for third in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) earlier this year.
He has been kept in light work by trainer Phillip Stokes and has had three starts this preparation.
“We are delighted with him. He is very much under the radar,” Henderson said.
“We decided not to run him again after the Bart Cummings (Gr.3, 2510m), we felt he was fit enough. He has basically been in light work all the way through since his good run in the Sydney Cup.
“We have given him almost a European-style stayers preparation. A gate will help him tremendously and if he can draw a decent gate and settle in the first third of the field, he will be well and truly in the race.”
OTI had another Melbourne Cup contender in Regal Lion, however, Henderson has elected to wait a year with the Jakkalberry four-year-old, and he will instead head to the Listed Furphy Plate (1800m) on the undercard with plenty of expectations on his shoulders.
“Annabel Neasham (trainer) made him her best bet of the carnival yesterday (Wednesday), which put us all on edge,” Henderson said.
“He is going super. He is a serious horse.
“We had the option of keeping him in the Cup but felt as a four-year-old - and this is taking a leaf out of many of the other good New Zealand horses over the years - we will look after him this year, let him do his apprenticeship and hopefully he will be a Melbourne Cup horse next year.
“We are looking forward to him racing on Tuesday, and he should be hard to beat.”
On the opening day of the carnival, OTI will be represented by promising three-year-old Big Story.
The What’s The Story gelding was runner-up in the Listed Hill Smith Stakes (1800m) at Morphettville earlier this month and will head to Flemington on Saturday to contest the Gr.3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) for trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr.
“Mick was keen to put him into this race, but he is going to be a much better horse in 12 months’ time,” Henderson said.
“Mentally he is good, but physically he just needs to strengthen up, as we would expect with his breed. He will run a nice race, but we wouldn’t consider him a winning chance.”
Further north on Saturday, Hezashocka will carry the OTI silks in the A$750,000 Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m), following his fourth-placed run in the Gr.3 Craven Plate (1800m) at Randwick last start.
“It was a great run in the Craven Plate,” Henderson said.
“He will run well. We have been very happy with him in Sydney, and we have left him in Sydney since the Craven Plate and we are looking forward to watching him run a big race there.”
Meanwhile, Henderson reported I’m Thunderstruck has come through his Cox Plate run well and will now likely head to Flemington on Saturday-week for the Gr.1 Champions Mile (1600m), although he isn’t ruling out a crack at the Gr.1 Champions Stakes (2000m) on the same card.
“We are delighted with him. He will probably go to the mile on the final day,” Henderson said.
“We are keeping our options open until the end of the week, just to look at the field and see how the track might play.
“A mile at Flemington is really ideal for him. That is what we are thinking at the moment, but we haven’t dismissed going to the 2000m and seeing how we go against Anamoe again, if he were to start.”