Filly ready to rock - Timaru

By Matt Markham

With Mainland Banner as her dam, the pressure was on Rocker Band before she even stepped out on the racetrack.

And while she is unlikely to ever reach the dizzying heights of her glamour mum, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover is keeping the family line ticking over quite nicely. Blessed with the same devastating speed, but equally as damning mental fortitude, the Mark Jones trained filly in a filly of the future.

In five starts she has shown glimpses of her undeniable talent, but Jones gives the impression that he’s keen to see the rangy filly take that next step up and go from a good horse to something even better.

“It’s all there and she is improving all the time,’’ the Burnham horseman said.

“But in saying that she has to keep improving because the fillies she is going to race in the next few months are that good.’’

A winner of a Nevele R Fillies Heat on the grass track of Methven at the Hororata meeting last month, Rocker Band will take on many of the same horses tonight at Addington in the final South Island heat of the rich series.

There waiting for her too will be Katy Perry who ran second to her at Methven.

But Jones thinks the horse he will take in to Addington this week will be a better version than the one who trekked to Methven.

“She actually surprised me how well she handled the grass tack, especially because it was a little bit wet.

“I think she will definitely be better being back on the all-weather surface.’’

Drawn barrier three, Rocker Band already has one major advantage as Katy Perry will start from the barrier outside her, which could prove crucial.

Jones is keen to see Ricky May drive the filly like she is the best horse in the race, so you would imagine that means dominating from the top end of the field.

He will be hoping for a strong pace himself as he takes the reins on stable mate, Champagne Dreams who isn’t a forlorn hope of running in the money based on her strong last start third.

Jones has been very quiet in terms of drives this season – but tonight could see his figures improve noticeably with a strong book, despite not being aboard Rocker Band.

His two-year-old trotter, Arannalea will be looking to continue her good form in the opening race of the night while drives on Thebestlove, Danny Del Vito, Nero Star and Perissa could see him add to his currently tally of 14 driving wins.

The former World Driving Champion will have the services of his star performer back in the next couple of weeks with Master Lavros not far away from resuming.

Following his inglorious campaign around Cup time, Jones is happy with the way the former Dominion Handicap winner is progressing.

“He’s coming along really nicely, I’m happy with him.

“He will trial in the next week or so before we head to the NZ Trotting Championship and then up to Auckland.’’

That means a return clash at Addington with Great Southern Star king, Stent who will return to New Zealand in a rich vein of form and hard to beat.