Ocean Park staked his claims for the Cox Plate with a dashing Underwood Stakes victory at Caulfield while favourite Manighar finished a disappointing sixth.
Trained by Gary Hennessy in New Zealand, Ocean Park settled just behind the speed set by import Voila Ici.
While it the the latter’s Peter Moody-trained stablemate Manighar who was expected to be hard to beat, roughie Voila Ici gave a strong kick on the corner and almost pinched victory.
It was left to Ocean Park to reel him in with Voila Ici a fighting second and December Draw game in defeat for third.
“He’s a very athletic horse, he won’t take much work,” triumphant jockey Glen Boss said.
“What you see is what you get.
“He’s got an electric turn of foot.”
Ocean Park is being prepared for the Cox Plate and Hennessy says Saturday’s victory indicates they are on the right path.
“He’s pretty special. He’s been a pretty special horse all the way along,” Hennessy said.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
Manighar appeared to enjoy a good run in the 1800m race but didn’t show his customary dash at the finish.
Reigning Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed was doing her best work late to run fourth.