The story behind Ocean Emperor’s Tauranga Stakes victory

Ocean Emperor wins
Ocean Emperor goes back-to-back in Tauranga Stakes. Picture: NZ RACING DESK.

A phone call from the National Racing Bureau in the early hours of Saturday morning delivered an unexpected reward for Cambridge jockey Lynsey Satherley.

The hard-working horsewoman was enjoying having a quiet morning when the 6.30am call came through advising fellow jockey Dylan Turner was ill and would have to forego the mount on the well-fancied Ocean Emperor in the Group 2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m).

“The Bureau told me that Gary (Hennessy) was looking for a rider to replace Dylan so I gave him a call and we agreed I would ride the horse later that day,” Satherley said.

“I had ridden a little bit for Gary earlier on in my career, so I was delighted he had thought about me.

“We talked about how he wanted the horse ridden and I thought he was a massive chance based on his lead-up form.

“While I might have been having a little bit of a lie in as I had the morning off, I certainly don’t mind getting calls like that one.”

The rest, as they say, is history as Satherley produced a copybook ride to guide Ocean Emperor to victory over pacemaker Nicoletta and the late-finishing Darscape Princess in the Group Two Tauranga feature.

“Gary had said that he gets out of the gates well but will drop the bit and take a trail which was how he wanted him ridden,” Satherley said.

“He jumped brilliantly but it took him a wee while to settle as they weren’t going that hard in front.

“He tugged a bit but once Anna Jones (Woodsman) came around and sat outside Nicoletta he dropped the bit and travelled nicely for me.”

Satherley admitted some inside knowledge on the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Nicoletta had helped when making her decision on when to make her challenge on Ocean Emperor.

“I ride a lot of trackwork for Murray and Andrew and have been on Nicoletta before,” she said.

“She is a lovely mare on the way up and I knew she wouldn’t give in without a fight. I just had to get the timing right on my horse so he would have the best shot at her.

“It was a decent struggle but I was always confident we would get there as he is a very good horse with an explosive sprint.”

The win continues a good vein of form for Satherley who has ridden eight winners so far this season.

“It was a thrill to get the chance on a nice horse like that in a big race so hopefully it might mean I get a few more rides from it,” she said.

“I work hard at my riding and enjoy the opportunities I do get so I will make the most of this and just keep doing the job that I love.”