The feelgood story around Bill Pomare and his rugged stayer Ocean Billy is ready for its next chapter later this month.
The 2021 Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner provided Pomare, wife Suzi and fellow owner Peter Ludgate with a once in a lifetime moment when he contested the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in November for caretaker trainer Chris Waller.
It was a bittersweet experience for the trio as they couldn’t be on hand in Melbourne to take in the atmosphere of the great race due to COVID restrictions, whilst their pride and joy wasn’t at his best and finished at the tail of the field in a race won by Waller with Kiwi-bred and part owned mare Verry Elleegant.
Pomare was keen to get Ocean Billy home later that week, but after lengthy discussions with Waller, the decision was taken to leave him in his care for an extended autumn campaign in Sydney.
“It was a dream come true for us with the Melbourne Cup bid, but it didn’t turn out like we had wanted,” Pomare said.
“The main problem was the horse just didn’t enjoy his first time away from home in the big smoke and just didn’t settle in that well.
“He wasn’t eating and by the time Cup came around he just didn’t have the energy levels he needed for a race like that.
“We were keen to get him back as soon as we could, but Chris made a really compelling argument about leaving him with him for a little longer.
“He was of the opinion that, as long as he could get him to settle in and find his feet, then there were some really attractive targets in Sydney in the late summer and autumn.
“We had a good think about it and decided to take him up on the offer.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make as the horse is like a member of our family. My wife just adores him and when you can’t visit or give him a little cuddle every now and then it can get very hard.”
Pomare reported that after a decent spell on an agistment property for Waller, Ocean Billy is back in pre-training and will make an appearance at the trials soon to kick off his latest preparation.
“A lot is happening and we are getting pretty excited by it,” he said.
“Billy spent time on a farm that Chris uses and they went over him with a fine-tooth comb.
“He has been working around the hills and Chris informed us that he should be ready for a trial later this month.
“He intends to give him two trials then he will most likely go first-up into the Parramatta Cup (Listed, 1900m) at Rosehill on February 19.
“The Sydney Cup (Group 1, 3200m) at Randwick in April is his main target, so he will be working towards that all the way through.”
Pomare is keen to see Ocean Billy back at the track as soon as possible as a tonic for fellow owner Peter Ludgate.
“Peter is 90 now and he hasn’t been in the best of health,” Pomare said.
“He adores the horse as much as we do and I think if he could see him racing again, it would be a hell of a boost.
“After Billy ran in the Melbourne Cup, the Club there sent us the saddlecloth, the mini trophy they used at the barrier draw and several other things.
“Peter has the mini cup at his home and he has it with him every minute of the day as it holds so many special memories and it is just so wonderful to see the pleasure it gives him.”