Racing: Rocker Band's greatest hit may have been her last

By Michael Guerin

Samantha Ottley celebrates her first group one victory. Photo / Trish Dunell
Samantha Ottley celebrates her first group one victory. Photo / Trish Dunell

Rocker Band's greatest performance may have been her last.

The dazzling Jewels winner came from a seemingly hopeless position on Saturday to give driver Samantha Ottley her first group one victory and kick off a day of drama for some of those who got locked up on the markers.

Favourites such as Dream About Me and Pacing Major were luckless and stormed into minor placings after being locked away. But Lady Luck smiled on Ottley and Rocker Band after they were pushed to four back on the inside.

She unwound in a style her New Zealand Cup-winning dam Mainland Banner would have been proud of but trainer Mark Jones fears he now has nowhere to go with the mare.

"She comes back a class eight mare next season and there are really only three major races for her to be aimed at, and even they mean taking on The Orange Agent and Dream About Me," says Jones.

"There just aren't enough mares races for the best mares and most of them aren't good enough to race the male cup horses.

"So she might be better off in the broodmare paddock, with her record and breeding."

Jones owns Rocker Band but leases her racing right to Greg Brodie of Courage Under Fire fame. "I am thrilled she won for Greg because he has been with me all the way along and also for Sam.

"Some people ask me why I don't drive her myself but if I did I would have been worrying all week about what she needed in the race, instead of just training her. And I have been given plenty of opportunities so it is nice to give them to somebody else."

While Jones is a former world drivers' champ, title holder Dexter Dunn was also a winner on Saturday with both Donegal Bettorgretch and Field Marshal.

Field Marshal was typical Dunn, off the gate fast then controlling the tempo, easing to his third group one on end for trainer Tim Butt. Aussie mobile races may now be the target.

Dunn's drive on Donegal Bettorgretch was aggressive and broke the heart of leader Missandei before hot favourite Marcoola galloped when challenging her in the home straight.

- NZ Herald

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