Aussie star ready to rock in NZ
The Aussie invasion has begun.
The first of two Australian horses vying to win harness racing's biggest prize in less than a month is now in Auckland, awaiting a trip south to Canterbury.
Rock N Roll Doo is currently rated a $3.50 second favourite for the IRT New Zealand Cup at Addington on Tuesday November 8.
He is likely to be joined by fellow Aussie Majestic Cruiser who is expected to arrive in early November, just days before the big race. Majestic Cruiser is currently at $13 on the TAB, with 2020 champion Self Assured the favourite at $3.20.
The last Australian-trained horse to win the New Zealand Cup was the Kerryn Manning trained and driven Arden Rooney in 2015. Others before that included My Lightning Blue (1987) and Steel Jaw (1983).
Rock N Roll Doo is a four-year-old with a career record of 12 wins from 29 starts. He has lifetime stakes earnings of $440,349.
The son of Rock N Roll Heaven has always had talent, but his big body and goofy mind didn’t allow him to show it in the early days.
“It’s been a long process, but we’re so glad he’s finally showing why we’ve always been so excited about him," says trainer Mick Stanley.
“Back when he was two, we had a young star called Bar Room Banta, who was a natural speed horse. He’s won two Group 1 races, but Rock N Roll Doo would sit on him, pull out and finish right with him, but he wouldn’t put it all together at the races.”
Stanley was also associated with other top-liners including Petacular, Soho Almasi and Soho Tribeca.
Even when Rock N Roll Doo started to get his act together earlier this year, Stanley took the conservative road again.
He was a lock for a run in the Group 1 Rising Sun and other features during Queensland’s Winter Carnival, but Stanley and his loyal and long-time owner Brendan James turned their back on some big money opportunities.
“Hopefully he's got years ahead of racing at the top level,” Stanley said. “We thought about that when it came to Queensland and decided to give him another break with a view to these big races at the end of the year and beyond.”
The result? Rock N Roll Doo has raced seven times this campaign for five wins and two seconds, most notably a mind-blowingly impressive victory in last Saturday night’s Group 1 Victoria Cup against most of Australasia’s best pacers at Melton.
Despite sitting parked throughout, Rock N Roll Doo zipped away at top of the home straight and won as he liked by 3.1m in a slick 1min54sec mile rate for 2240m.
It cemented what was already a “very likely” New Zealand Cup raid.
“I love the NZ racing and to have a Cup runner, let alone a real winning chance, is a dream come true,” says Brendan James.
James is close with Cran Dalgety which is why Rock N Roll Doo will be stabled at his Kentuckiana Lodge establishment.
“It should ensure a fun time on and off the track,” Stanley laughed.