Roger That will today shoot for a win that remained beyond the reach of stable flagbearer John Gray, despite years of trying.
Remarkably, Tauranga trainer Anthony Fuller produced John Gray to run at the Kiwifruit Cup meeting on eight separate occasions, five times tackling the staying feature - his best result a 3-length second placing to Intransigent in 2013.
"He wasn't really a stayer but we used to have a go at the race because it was on his doorstep. He was usually carrying topweight and it was just too tough for him," Fuller said of John Gray, a winner of 14 races and stakes-placed up to group three level.
Shinko King five-year-old gelding Roger That goes into today's Orara Kiwi Packaging Kiwifruit Cup (2100m) at Tauranga as a winner of four of his 14 starts, including both his runs this preparation.
"He's only a light-framed horse, he's not the best doer and though he is getting better, we've had to space his races," Fuller said of Roger That's unorthodox preparation that has seen him win a Rating 70 race at Te Awamutu in April and a Rating 75 race at the same track seven weeks ago.
"We probably could have run him in-between, but we were down to go to Counties and that meeting got abandoned so we decided to come straight here. This race has been the target right from this time last year. We thought then it was the right race for him and we're hoping we're right."
Fuller said the comparison between Roger That and John Gray was stark.
"John Gray was a big gross horse that would eat us out of house and home," Fuller said.
"This bloke is a lot easier horse to work with and certainly more of a natural stayer. You don't know until you try, but we think he can measure up on Saturday. If he could win it, that would be great but they are not going to just hand it to us.
"We'll be a lot wiser in any case. His four wins haven't been against horses who have been around like these ones but we think he should step up. If not, he's at a place in the ratings that he can drop back to his own grade and work back up to this with time."
Fuller said the Taumarunui Cup (2200m) at Rotorua on July 28 was a possible target for Roger That should he run well today.
- NZ Racing Desk