Aussie invader adds huge interest to Magic Monday's Ashburton Flying Stakes

By Michael Guerin

Trainer Michael Stanley couldn’t be happier with Australian superstar Rock N Roll Doo heading into his New Zealand debut on Monday but he still warns punters they may not see his best in the NZB Airfreight Ashburton Flying Stakes. 

The Victoria Cup winner adds big-time Trans Tasman rivalry to a Flying Stakes that includes most of the major chances in the IRT New Zealand Cup 15 days later, with the two biggest names not there being Copy That (Alex Park on Thursday) and Majestic Cruiser (Menangle on Saturday).

But Self Assured, Spankem, B D Joe, South Coast Arden and Alta Wiseguy along with northern speedster Old Town Road and plenty of other high-quality pacers make this the most important race on the road to the Cup so far.

So Rock N Roll Doo has picked a tough race in which to have his first standing start but that isn’t what has Stanley suggesting he could get beaten on Monday.

“The reality is he didn’t work for four days over the weekend,” says Stanley.

“He flew to Auckland last Thursday, had a couple of days there and then travelled down here and got to Cran’s (Dalgety) on Sunday.

“He handled the trip really well and breaking it up in Auckland helped but he hasn’t had the hopples on since he won the Victoria Cup.

“I will give him a hopple (workout) probably on Thursday and he looks great but he can’t be at his peak like he was for say the Kilmore or Victoria Cups because we could work him when we wanted then, whereas the main priority this week has been travelling.”

Stanley says because of that Rock N Roll Doo should take improvement out of what will be a hard-run 2400m on Monday and that suits him just fine.

“This is to get him ready for the NZ Cup in all ways: fitness, the standing start and taking on these horses.

“So he can’t possibly be at his peak but after this I have two weeks to get him there. And Monday will let us know where we stand and where the other do too.”

Stanley loves his wide front line draw of 8, suggesting it gives him time to get the big pacer balanced and relaxed rather than having to burn him early to hold a spot or risk being locked away.

“I don’t think the stand will bother him and the other day at Cran and Chrissie’s place they were giving Krug some standing start practice and I asked if I could just put my fella alongside him behind the tape.

“The tape pinged away, Krug went on his way and my fella stood there nice and relaxed like nothing had happened.”

Stanley’s warning along with Self Assured (3) getting a good draw and being fitter after two starts back suggests he deserves favouritism and is the horse to beat but the Flying Stakes is set to return to being what it has been for much of the last 20 years, the definitive trial for the New Zealand Cup.

Self Assured is just one favourite to draw well for the meeting, billed as Magic Monday, with Muscle Mountain (barrier 5) set to start red hot in the Flying Trot, Millwood Nike (4) the same in the juvenile fillies Sires’ Stakes and True Fantasy (R6, No.6) drawn to return to her best in the Nevele R Fillies heat.

But there are some intriguing contests in the Franco Mac/Republican Party clash in race 3, the Hambletonian looks a beauty and Don’t Stop Dreaming has a lot of talented rivals in front of him drawn the outside of the second line in the last of the juvenile male Sires’ Stakes heats.

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