On The Rocks brought up some big milestones for trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard when he won the Gr.1 Herbie Dykes Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month and they are hoping he can continue his winning ways in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) on Saturday.
“It was my first Group One (win as a trainer) and Mike’s 50th, so it was really good,” Gerard said.
“It was a good win, I am very happy with the condition of the horse going into Saturday. It’s not easy, they are never easy, they are Group Ones.
“His work has been super this week and he has done everything that we have asked of him since winning.”
The four-year-old son of Alamosa has been in good form of late, winning the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) two starts prior at Ellerslie, the venue for Saturday’s contest.
The Group One feature has attracted a star-studded field, which includes five-time Group One winner Melody Belle, but Gerard said she is just concentrating on her own horse leading into the race.
“I am not going to worry about the other horses,” she said. “If he gets the right trip I think he’s certainly the horse to do it over 2000m.
“I am never confident, but I am happy at this stage with where he is at and how he has coped with everything.”
Gerard is happy with drawing gate four and said jockey Jake Bayliss has plenty of options from that barrier.
“Drawn four, I just think he can put him anywhere,” she said. “We’ll just see how he jumps and hopefully he’s in midfield or just in front.
“It really just depends on how they come out of the gates and how the race is run. He is very adaptable, you can put him anywhere, Jake knows him well so he will know what to do.”
An Australian campaign beckons the talented galloper, however, Gerard said he would have to perform up to expectations on Saturday to warrant that trip.
“We’ll just take one race at a time,” she said. “If he goes well he will get his chance in Australia and if he doesn’t we’ll just see, he might go for a spell. But there a plenty of options for him over in Australia.”
On The Rocks is a $5.50 third favourite with TAB bookmakers, with Group One-winning mares Melody Belle and Danzdanzdance marked as $3.20 joint favourites.
Meanwhile, Gerard will line-up imported stayer Vengeur Masque one race later in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).
The seven-year-old son of Monsun has travelled over from Ballymore Stables’ Melbourne barn and Gerard said he has settled in well.
“He has travelled over beautifully,” she said. “Obviously he was fit and ready to go when he got here, I haven’t had to do anything.
“It’s just been a matter of ticking him over until Saturday. He looks magnificent, he is a lovely horse.”
Vengeur Masque heads into the race off the back of victory in the Listed Torney Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley last month.
“I don’t really know a lot about him, but word from Mike in Melbourne is that they are very happy and it was a good win,” Gerard said.
“He’s a really good stayer, the two miles is going to suit him on Saturday.
“As long as we don’t get too much rain, he definitely needs a firm track, I think Mike is pretty confident.” – NZ Racing Desk