Southern Ocean is riding the crest of a wave at the moment. The promising four-year-old has won three races from just five starts and was runner-up in his other two outings.
The son of Ocean Park finished runner-up to subsequent Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) winner Waisake at Trentham last month, and trainer Terri Rae has rightly taken a lot of confidence out of that run.
“He just got crowded on jumping and ended up back a little bit more in the field,” she said. “Running second to Waisake, who went out and won the Wellington Cup, is pretty good form.
“He was only having his fifth start and he is only a four-year-old, so it was a pretty good effort. It was his first trip away. He sweated up a bit on raceday and took it all in.”
Southern Ocean will return to his home track of Riccarton on Saturday where he will line-up in the CS Stevens Memorial Banks Peninsula Cup (1800m).
“He has got a good draw (3), which helps, as long as he gets away cleanly,” Rae said. “The only thing is that it’s an open race, although the top rater is only an 84, so it’s probably not a true open race, and just coming back to the 1800m.”
Southern Ocean has been installed as a $2.70 favourite by TAB bookmakers, ahead of Beneficial at $4.60.
Rae said this will likely be Southern Ocean’s last run this preparation and she believes he has a bright future ahead of him.
“He will have this run and then go out for a well-deserved break,” she said. “He seems to be stepping up each time and he is only a young horse. He has shown a fair amount. He won’t be pushed, he is a little bit on the soft side, which is why he will just have this one and then go out.”
Rae will also line-up last start winner Seriously in the GM Accounting & Consulting Rating 74 (1400m).
Rae was pleased with his last start victory and said he will appreciate the Dead6 track conditions at Riccarton.
“It was a back-up after a hard run from Ashburton, and he had a trip away the start before,” she said. “He is first-up against a lot of horses who have been racing, but there will be some good give in the ground, which is a big bonus for him.
“He doesn’t overly like a very firm track, which we usually get at this time of year. We are lucky with the weather, so the track will be to his liking.”
Rae’s stable will also be represented by Sacred Caga in the Rural Livestock Rating 74 (2000m).
“She has got a good draw (5), whereas she hasn’t in the last couple of starts and didn’t have a lot of choice other than to go back, and she gets a bit flat early,” Rae said.
“She will hopefully hold a handier spot from that draw and she does like racing along that big straight. She does need a big, long straight to finish off. She has got a good turn of foot and the distance will be ideal for her.”