Oceanex ridden by Dean Yendall prior to the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Oceanex (NZ) ridden by Dean Yendall prior to the Lexus Melbourne Cup in 2020.

The club that struck gold

BY CELIA PURDEY

Oceanex may be retired now, but a group of friends from the Bonbeach Sports Club had the ultimate thrill last year when the mare won the 2020 The Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m), giving them a golden ticket straight into the Lexus Melbourne Cup, and a chance at the ultimate prize.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 robbed many sports clubs of not only the community and joy of playing sport, but also their income.

In 2017 a group of friends came up with an inventive way of earning some money for their club, by deciding to join forces in a racehorse syndicate. Aiming to fund some renovations to the Bonbeach Sports Club, the natural choice of trainer that they would choose was one of the club’s sponsors, Mick Price.

Oceanex wins The Andrew Ramsden in May 2020 which guaranteed a place in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, as well as being a huge thrill for his owners.

Twenty-nine Bonbeach members, mainly made up of parents and friends, all contributed to purchase a small share in Oceanex, the New Zealand-bred daughter of 2012 Cox Plate winner, Ocean Park.

As well as hoping to make a little bit of money, the group were mainly out to have fun, regularly getting together to watch Oceanex on the track.

“The beauty of Australian racing is that you can take a share in a horse and be treated as an individual”

Price is a supporter of syndicates like this, supplying ordinary people the chance to not only change their life, but be part of something special.

“The beauty of Australian racing is that you can take a share in a horse and be treated as an individual,” he said. “Even if you take a five percent share, it doesn’t feel like five percent,” Price said.

Before COVID interrupted their fun, the group of owners had gotten together to watch Oceanex win the Matriarch Stakes at Flemington in November 2019 and  as thrilling as it would have been to be at Flemington on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day 2020 the Bonbeach Sports Club group, and all of the other owners in the horse, were still thrilled to be a part of it.

Oceanex performed commendably, finishing 5 and a half lengths from the winner in 11th place.

Stephen Cochrane from Bonbeach summed it up perfectly: “You simply couldn’t buy the experience we have had.”

As we watch this year’s The Andrew Ramsden, we may be watching the next Lexus Melbourne Cup winner, or simply a horse that will take a group of people on the ride of a lifetime.