Double Rocket returns

By Michael Guerin

Arna Donnelly knows she is lucky to have Double Rocket back at the races at Alexandra Park tonight, or anywhere else for that matter.

Because while the talented Waikato pacer continues his comeback in the $17,500 Onroad Transport Winter Cup tonight this time last year Donnelly feared Double Rocket’s life was in danger.

A rapid rise through the northern pacing ranks saw Double Rocket placed at group two level in March last year before he suffered severe hoof issues later diagnosed as laminitis, an often severe inflammation of the hooves which doesn’t tend to end well for horses struck down by it.

“It was touch and go there for a while whether he would make it and he couldn’t walk properly for six to eight weeks, says Donnelly.

“He needed to be iced like five times a day for a long time”.

While she hated seeing her stable star got through such a tough time the long spell that followed as not only cured Double Rocket but gave him time to strengthen and if he stays sound he looks a worthy addition to the northern open class ranks.

“I think, for all he has been through, he has come out of it a stronger and better horse. His work the other day was his best in two years if not the best he has ever worked.”

Double Rocket actually resumed from his 15 months on the sidelines in the super strong Uncut Gems race at Alexandra Park two weeks ago, hitting the line strongly in fourth.

“I was absolutely ecstatic with how he went fresh up and it has definitely brought him on fitness wise,” enthuses Donnelly.

As good as the five-year-old is he does meet some race-hardened rivals of equal ability to his tonight but perhaps more worrying for punters backing him will be his hit and miss standing start manners.

“He is iffy at the start,” admits Donnelly.

“If and when he steps he can make a flyer but when he misses it he can be a real bugger so that is the concern this week.”

Double Rocket could not afford to be giving his key rivals tonight a start, especially Hot And Treacherous who he shares the 10m mark with in the 2700m event.

Hot And Treacherous has progressed to a new level in recent starts and was a luckless second last start after a booming run-of-the-race third to the three-year-old Emerald at the Jewels.

While he faces a tricky inside draw if he can stay in front of rivals like Double Rocket and Plutonium Lady he looks the one to beat.

Donnelly also has the in-form Rough And Ready jumping sharply in class in the Winter Cup tonight while Wet Flipflops in race nine has a chance to further extend her trainer’s personal best season which sits at 35 wins.

While the Winter Cup is the undoubted highlight tonight there will be plenty of interest in whether I See Fire (R8, No.8) can make it three wins on end as he looks to be developing into a future open class trotter while one of our actual open class trotting stars in Temporale (R10, No.6) faces a 30m backmark in the last race of the night.

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