Racing: Kiwi ready to rock n' roll

By Mike Hedge

El Roca sizzles in workout before drawing perfectly at barrier two for Caulfield Guineas

New Zealand eyes will be firmly on El Roca when he does battle with the Aussies  at Caulfield. Photo / Trish Dunell
New Zealand eyes will be firmly on El Roca when he does battle with the Aussies at Caulfield. Photo / Trish Dunell

Had he wanted to, Cambridge trainer Trent Busuttin could have thrown out a decent challenge to his Australian rivals after El Roca drew perfectly in Saturday's Caulfield Guineas.

The colt, who arrived in Melbourne with a reputation as one of his country's best 3-year-olds, lived up to it at his only local run finishing second to Eclair Big Bang in the Guineas Prelude.

El Roca then came out at Caulfield on Tuesday and produced some of the best work of the morning when he galloped with handy older horse Dany The Fox.

Then came barrier two, a perfect gate for a front-running colt on Melbourne's best leaders' track.

However, Busuttin took the cautious, Kiwi approach.

"It's no secret that the level of 3-year-olds over here, especially from 1400m to 1600m, have the edge on ours in New Zealand," Busuttin said yesterday.

"He went well enough at his first start here, but he'll have to step up again on Saturday."

But it won't need to be a big step if El Roca can continue with the sort of natural improvement he has shown in each of his three runs so far, and in Tuesday's gallop.

Busuttin knows a bit about winning good races in Australia having brought Sangster here in the spring of 2011 to claim the Victoria Derby.

And he knew of El Roca's ability long before the colt stepped out on debut at Taupo in August.

"Right from day one he's shown ability," he said. "He probably would have been among the best 2-year-olds in New Zealand, but we couldn't get him to the races."

The usual juvenile issues of shin soreness and untimely growth spurts prevented El Roca from racing at two, but Busuttin has no regrets on that score.

After the Taupo maiden win, El Roca stepped up to listed company at Ruakaka for his second run and won by two lengths, confirming a trip to Melbourne.

In his only run here he led and was run down in the Guineas Prelude.

Then came the impressive training effort in which his well-performed partner couldn't go with him.

"Dany The Fox's trainer Mick Price told us he'd be a good horse to work with - if he could keep up with Dany The Fox he'd be going well."

But the situation was reversed, with Dany The Fox flat out to stay within a couple of lengths of his younger work mate.

Busuttin could barely disguise his delight, but he tried to. "It was good, but you need to be putting in that sort of work if you're serious about being in a group one race."

The bookies thought he was serious, trimming El Roca from $9 to $7 with only two other runners preferred ahead of him.

Victorian jockey Glen Boss has been confirmed as the rider of Silent Achiever in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday week.

Trainer Roger James has been thrilled with Silent Achiever's lead-up performances and she rounded off her preparation with a close sixth in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

"I'm really happy with her and back to a handicap and up to a mile and a-half, which is her pet distance, will suit her," he said. She won the 2010 New Zealand Derby.


Caulfield feature fields:

R6 5.10: Caulfield Stakes, A$402,000, 2000m.- Green Moon (1), Foreteller (5), Spacecraft (4), Massiyn (2) 59; Super Cool (3) 58; Atlantic Jewel (6) 57.

R8 6.20: Herbert Power Stakes, A$221,000, 2400m.- Sea Moon (9) 59.5; Simenon (4), Tanby (10) 56.5; Kesampour (2), Moudre (1) 54.5; Oasis Bloom (5), Motivado (7), Let's Make Adeal (6), Verdant (11), Goldoni (8), Phantom Brew (3) 53.

R9 6.55: Toorak Hcp, 1600m.- Linton (2), Solzhenitsyn (7) 58; Luckygray (6), December Draw (14) 57; Ferlax (17) 56.5; Speediness (16) 56; Budriguez (15) 55; Yosei (4), Lord of Brazil (12), Mouro (10), Centennial Park (1), Trevieres (8), Dany the Fox (13), Mutual Trust (9), Blackie (5), Transporter (3), Bass Strait (11) 54.5.

R10 7.45: Guineas, A$1,008,000, 1600m.- Dissident (13), Charlie Boy (3), Divine Calling (10), Long John (1), Shamus Award (11), Eclair Big Bang (4), Prince Harada (12), Weinholt (6), Late Charge (9), El Roca (2), Cluster (8), Nite Rocker (14), Great Esteem (5), Marwood (7) 56.5.

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