Ocean Emperor will be the last Group winning son of Zabeel to retire to stud and boasts a strong pedigree, with his dam the Group One-placed Pins mare Tootsie.
A $450,000 yearling purchase at Karaka from the draft of Waikato Stud, Ocean Emperor was raced by his trainer Hennessy in partnership with Andrew Wong and Stephen Yan – the same team that owned the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) winner, Horse of the Year and now Waikato Stud stallion Ocean Park.
Ocean Emperor had 28 starts for nine wins and five placings, headed by the Gr.2 Japan-NZ International Trophy (1600m) and back-to-back editions of the Gr.2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m). He contested last year’s Kranji Mile (1600m) in Singapore, finishing seventh.
His final start was a fourth placing in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham last December.
“He’s a beautifully bred horse and had a massive amount of ability,” Hennessy said.
“He was a drop-dead gorgeous looking yearling from day one and that is how we aim to promote him,” Hennessy said.
“If you listen to the race call of Tony Lee, he referred to him as the good looking boy and that is exactly what he is.”
Hennessy said Ocean Emperor came to hand early, but had a set-back during his three-year-old season.
“He won a two-year-old trial by five lengths over 800m and sons of Zabeel just don’t do that. That is the brilliance that he has got in his pedigree and what he possessed himself,” he said.
“He had a hiccup in his three-year-old season where he had a hoof abscess and he was off the track for 20 months. The hoof was cut right back to the coronet band.
“In his two Tauranga Stakes wins, the horses that finished second to him (Miss Wilson and Nicoletta) went on to win the Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha later in that same season. He really was a top-class horse and he beat 30 stakes winners of which 12 were Group One performers.”
Ocean Emperor is closely related to quality juvenile Probabeel and dual Group One winner Savvy Coup and Hennessy believes he will be a successful outcross for many breeders.
“It is a pedigree that Garry Chittick has fostered over many generations. It is a very strong family that Waikato Stud have bred a huge number of stakes winners from.
“There are plenty of proven crosses with Zabeel, with a number of the Danehill-line stallions nicking well, in addition to Tavistock and Stravinsky here in New Zealand, so I think he will suit a range of mares.”
The Hennessys have developed the 50 acre Weowna Park in recent years and intend to support Ocean Emperor with a number of quality mares of their own, while their Hong Kong partners will also be supporting the horse.
“Weowna Park we bought courtesy of Waikato Stud buying Ocean Park. We have 14 in-foal mares there and probably another eight or nine empty mares,” Hennessy said.
“We take foals through until they’re ready for a sales preparation and send them off to other people to prepare.
“With the enquiries we have had already regarding Ocean Emperor, we have 20 mares lined up for him.”
Hennessy has supported emerging sire Ocean Park with up to ten mares a season and believes a number of his broodmares will also suit Ocean Emperor.“I’ve bought mares that I have identified that will cross well with Zabeel, given Ocean Park is out of a Zabeel mare, and in the back of my mind has been Ocean Emperor all along,” he said.