Milan Park principal Tony Rider has had a busy time of late. Rider and his team at Pak ‘N’ Save Clarence St, Hamilton, have been run off their feet supplying customers over the COVID-19 lockdown period. “It’s been full on, but it’s been good,” he said. “There have been some challenges that we have never come across before. “We had to change our business style to what we had to do. “But hopefully by this time next week we should be back to just about normal.”
While Rider didn’t have much spare time, he made sure he was free to watch Oceanex, a mare he bred, gain entry into this year’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) after winning the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington last month. Rider has already experienced having a Melbourne Cup runner through The Chosen One last year, but he said having one he bred qualify for the great race is special. “It was nice just to get one into the race, but knowing you have bred one that will get into the race is really rewarding,” he said.
Like many racing enthusiasts, the Melbourne Cup has always stood out for Rider. “It’s right up there,” he said. “As a breeder you want to try and breed a lot more up and early runners, but at the same time to breed a Melbourne Cup horse, that’s very exciting.”
Oceanex was purchased by her co-trainer Mick Price out of Milan Park’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $70,000, and Rider said she had a presence about her then. “She had attitude,” he said. “She was a strong horse and had a beautiful walk. “We put a reserve on her and if she didn’t make it we were going to bring her home. But she hit the reserve and the rest is history.”
A shareholder in her sire, Ocean Park, Rider has been pleased with his efforts this year and said his progeny are proving that patience is key. “A lot of us would love to have sprinters and middle-distance horses, but to breed those distance horses it takes a bit of time for them to mature,” he said. “He (Ocean Park) throws some of this kind (stayers) and with a bit more time they will be very good Cups horses.”
While Rider is already assured of having one representative in the race that stops a nation, he is hoping to have another, with the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained The Chosen One. The Savabeel entire finished unplaced in last year’s Melbourne Cup, but Rider said The Chosen One has matured since that run as evidenced by his last start runner-up result in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m). “He is only a four-year-old and his biggest problem has been maturity,” Rider said. “It has just taken time. We were wanting him to be more of a middle-distance horse for his stallion prospects, but he is definitely going to be a stayer. “He’s not a big horse and I think you will see a lot of changes this coming season with him.”
Meanwhile, Rider is looking forward to Oceanex’s two-year-old half-sister Miss Aotearoa stepping back out on the track. “She has gone into work with Jamie Richards (trainer) today,” Rider said. “She has showed plenty of promise and Jamie is itching to get her underway.”