New Zealand galloper Ocean Park remains on track for the Cox Plate after a gutsy victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes on Saturday.
It wasn't the most dominant performance from Ocean Park, but the Gary Hennessy-trained four-year-old did enough to take out the $400,000 race and stay high up in the betting for the weight-for-age showcase at Moonee Valley in a fortnight.
Glen Boss settled Ocean Park in the perfect spot in the initial stages of the race and when runners turned for home the veteran jockey made his move.
Ocean Park cruised up to the leaders and it looked like he was going to go past them in a flash to win easily, but a couple of challengers quickly emerged.
Sincero levelled up with Ocean Park before wilting on his run and then stayer Alcopop came home late with a strong finishing burst.
But Boss got everything out of his mount late as Ocean Park held on to claim his sixth career success and third on the trot.
While the length of Ocean Park's victory might not have been enough to enthuse Cox Plate form analysts, Boss said the horse would be vastly improved at Moonee Valley.
"Today's run was what he really needed to clean himself out," he said after the race.
"He put himself in a good spot in the run and I can't believe how relaxed he became.
"When he got clear he switched off, but that might be a fact that he just needed the run."
Boss remains confident Ocean Park can win him his third Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 27 and said he would not swap the ride for any other.
"I think he is the right horse," he said.
"He has got weight for age form now and has the ability to get off the bridle and then get back on it very quickly.
"I am not underestimating the job he has got ahead of him, but at the moment I wouldn't swap because I really love this horse."Alcopop nabbed Sincero for second on the line and is likely to return for the Caulfield Cup next Saturday.
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