All things being equal, last season’s Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Ocean Billy will step out for his first raceday assignment at Te Rapa on Saturday as he begins a campaign that could see him contest both the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) later in the spring.
Trainer Bill Pomare has been bringing his pride and joy along quietly as he gets ready for the trip of a lifetime and is keen to see racing resume from its current hiatus due to the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
“Billy has been in work for a while now and he has come up a treat,” Pomare said.
“He’s very well and went to a jumpout at Matamata recently with three horses from the Te Akau Racing team and kept up with them nicely.
“He’s a very clean-winded type so he took improvement from that and is ready to resume at Te Rapa as long as racing is up and running by then.
“He can have a run in the Foxbridge Plate (Group 2, 1200m) first-up and then we’ll go to an open handicap at Hastings over 1600m next.
“From there it will most likely be a middle distance race at Ellerslie and then we will fly over to Melbourne to get ready for the Caulfield Cup.”
Pomare admits he got a bit of a fright when he got a call from Greg Carpenter, the Executive General Manager Racing at Racing Victoria, recently regarding his Melbourne plans.
“Greg Carpenter rang me and asked me why I hadn’t nominated Billy for the Cups in Melbourne,” he said.
“I thought I still had a week or two to go before I had to do it, but he told me the nominations closed that day which got me going a bit.
“I said to him I definitely wanted to nominate so he took it there and then over the phone.
“I had a good talk to him about what weight I could expect and the like and he told me he would most likely get around 53.5kgs in both races, which I think is pretty fair.
“Greg also gave me the names of a few people to call to work out any details I need for when I’m over there, so I really appreciate the guidance he has provided.”
Pomare confirmed that leading South Island rider Chris Johnson would make the trip north to ride Ocean Billy in the Foxbridge Plate although a rider for races after that had yet to be decided.