Oakland Park’s mission statement on the home page of its website is to breed racehorses capable of winning at black-type level.
That’s no idle boast. Neville Duncan’s nursery has bred Australian Horse-of-the-Year Northerly and feature winners Marasco (Makybe Diva Stakes), Shirazamatazz (WATC Derby), Covertly (Railway Stakes) and Roman Time (Karrakatta Plate)
The Fred Kersley trained Operational and Ihtsahymn have the potential to join that list of Oakland Park homebreds after completing a running double at Belmont on Saturday.
OPERATIONAL (4g Tiger Hill – Opera Queen by Pleasant Colony) settled last before cruising through a gap in the straight under a confident Dan Staeck ride. “He was just one-paced early on in his career,” Kersley commented after the Westspeed Stayers Bonus (2200m). “He’s developed a nice turn of speed and is a better horse here than at Ascot.”
Operational won the Dayana Plate at Belmont 12 months ago and Saturday’s victory competed a hat-trick at Perth’s winter course. He’s getting up in the weights and connections will consider a crack at the G3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) at Belmont on June 29.
Duncan bred the budding stayer from former Darley mare Opera Queen. She is a USA bred half-sister to the Group 1 winners Irish Prize (Hollywood Shoemaker Mile) and Hatoof (English Champion Stakes & One Thousand Guineas).
Opera Queen has foaled 6 winners including LR Scone Cup winner Obvious Choice (Redoute’s Choice). She was served by Oakland Park sire Rogano last year.
IHTSAHYMN gave his rivals windburn winning the Westspeed Nursery (1400m) on Saturday. He balanced up for Steven Parnham and then blew past the front-runner to score by a couple of lengths.
Kersley isn’t the type to praise a horse out of turn. That’s understandable – he did train Northerly – but Ihtsahymn might be an exception after rounding off a running double for the stable on Saturday.
“I’m really pleased with that,” Kersley said. “He’s even better than I thought! There’s a lot to learn. He’s very tall and still has to find himself.”
Ihtsahymn (2g Ihtiram – Umatune by Umatilla) had won on debut in March but he was in a petulant mood second-up and didn’t put in at Ascot. The WA Sires’ Produce Stakes was also a lost cause after he missed the kick and then Kersley sent him for a break.
“Being fresh, I thought he might be a bit cantankerous today but he was on his best behaviour. He will mature into a nice horse next season.”
Kersley indicated the G2 WA Guineas (1600m) worth $350,000 on November 23 is a long-term goal.
Ihtsahymn is a half-brother to Jestatune (Perth Magic Millions Classic) and four other winners. Their dam Umatune won a LR Crystal Slipper Stakes and her latest foal is a filly by War Chant.
His sire Ihtiram stood at Oakland Park before transferring to Don Hammarquist’s Walkaway property last year.
Rogano (Redoute’s Choice) will cover his second book at Duncan’s south-west property in 2013. A Sydney winning brother to Not A Single Doubt, he joined the Oakland Park roster for a service fee of $5,500.
– Karl Patterson