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Double for Hennessy and Hills at Awapuni

5 November 2017, 4:12 p.m.

The Gary Hennessy and Mark Hills combination made their mark at Awapuni on Saturday when the trainer and jockey combination tore off a winning double.

Injury prone galloper Ocean Emperor set the ball rolling with an eye-catching victory in the rating 85 Feilding Hotel Handicap (1550m) before Temple Tiger saluted in a rating 75 contest over 1400 metres just two races later.

Ocean Emperor Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images)

It was the first win by Zabeel entire Ocean Emperor at his fourth run back in a new campaign and one that has his trainer hoping it will provide a spring board to greater honours during the summer months.

“That’s the first time he has got track conditions to suit this time in and he showed just how good he can be when he gets decent footing,” noted Hennessy.

“His first up run on a wet track at New Plymouth was very good and so were his next two that were also on tracks that didn’t suit. He worked really well on Thursday and I was confident he could win once he struck a firm track.

“Mark had him in a good spot and with the speed on it suited him and he let down with the type of sprint we know he has.”

Hennessy is relieved just to have the lightly raced six-year-old back on the track after a foot abscess meant he had to spend 18 months in the paddock at the end of his four-year-old season.

“He got a bad abscess in his foot which meant he had to have most of his hoof removed up to the coronet band,” he explained.

“It took a long time to get him right, but we have been patient with him as we think he has the ability to win a good race,” said Hennessy.

“If he can strike the right tracks over summer then we’ll set him for a stakes race as if he could win a big one then there is still the possibility of a stallion career for him when he’s finished racing.”

The win of Ocean Emperor also instilled further confidence in Hennessy about the chances of Temple Tiger who took out his sixth career victory with his win on Saturday.

“Temple Tiger had worked with Ocean Emperor on Thursday and had gone every bit as well,” he said.

“When the other horse won I was confident he could also do the job. I had told the owners to expect a good run, so I think they were pretty happy with the result as they took a fair bit off the punt.

“He’s won on a premier day before so I know he can match it at that level and I thought Mark rode him very well.

“Mark is a very underrated senior rider who doesn’t get the opportunities he deserves so it was great to see him get some well-deserved success.” – NZ Racing Desk.