It was Danzdanzdance who was the star of the show on Boxing Day when she impressively completed a Group One double and on New Year’s Day it could be the opportunity for On The Rocks, one of her conquerors last season, to shine.
While Danzdanzdance was all the rage to win the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie after her triumph in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham, On The Rocks is on the fifth line of Fixed Odds betting at $10 for the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on Tuesday and will be tackling the feature with just one race under his belt.
However, there is no doubting the class he showed last season when winning three of his eight starts, particularly his win in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie.
That day he defeated Danzdanzdance and Vin De Dance while the beaten brigade included next-start Karaka 3YO Mile winner Scott Base (fourth) and Mongolianconqueror (seventh).
A fortnight later Vin De Dance, Mongolianconqueror and Danzdanzdance filled the first three placings in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), while On The Rocks found the distance a step too far when eighth.
On The Rocks also defeated the highly rated Demonetization (third) when winning the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial 3YO (1500m) at Ellerslie before the tables were turned when he finished third to him in the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m).
On The Rocks was given a well-deserved lengthy spell after the New Zealand Derby and trainers Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard have targeted the Rich Hill Mile.
“We gave him a long spell as he had a hard season as a three-year-old. He’s only a pony and it was tough on him,” Gerard said.
“This will be a test for him. He raced against some good three-year-olds last season but he’s never been up against a field (open-class) like this.
“Love Affair will be the one to beat. She’s really good and honest. But he’s down in the weights and he deserves his chance.”
Being on a rating of 79, On The Rocks slips into the Rich Hill Mile on the 52kg minimum and regular rider Jake Bayliss is wasting to make the weight.
“It’s Jake’s choice to ride him. He wanted to do it,” Gerard said. “He may be a half-kilo over, but he assures me he will do his best to do the weight. That’s confidence in their chances.”
After two trials in November, On The Rocks resumed with a close third behind The Mitigator (a rival again on Tuesday) over 1500m at Ellerslie on December 8 and was to have another start leading into the Rich Hill Mile, but his trainers opted to withdraw the son of Alamosa from the Dunstan Feeds 1500 Championship Final (1500m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
“It was a heavy track and he had 60 kilos,” Gerard said. “Even though he’s a small horse, he’s got a big long stride and he wants a good track.”
On The Rocks’ performance on Tuesday will determine whether he stays on for the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 19 or heads to Moroney’s Melbourne stable.
“At present he’s eligible for some of the low-rated races in Australia worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” Gerard said.
“If he happens to win the Rich Hill Mile he’ll be too highly rated so will stay here, but if he runs a good race and isn’t far away he could go over.”
Moroney and Gerard will be strongly represented at Ellerslie on Tuesday and have runners in four of the black-type races. - NZ Racing Desk