First NZ start, and stand, for Rock N Roll Doo
By Michael Guerin
Rock n Roll Doo may be one of the most feared Australian horses to come to New Zealand in years but trainer Michael Stanley is warning punters not to expect his best work in the $50,000 Ashburton Flying Stakes today.
The last-start stunning winner of the Victoria Cup makes his New Zealand race debut in his homeland (he was bred here) up against most of our leading pacers in what will be the pivotal lead-up race to the IRT New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 8.
Rock N Roll Doo has the motor to potentially become the dominant pacer on the Australasian Grand Circuit but Stanley says while he would love to win today the end goal is the Cup.
“He has only had the hopples on once since the Victoria Cup two weeks ago,” Stanley explains.
“He actually doesn’t do a lot of fast work anyway. I ride him, swim him and canter him in the cart but he can’t be at his peak for this race after he missed four days real work when he travelled here.
“Then we have the fact it is his first standing start race so I will be just trying to get him away and keep him happy.
“So whatever he does here he will improve on.”
Rock N Roll Doo has been so powerful this spring, and should love the bigger NZ tracks, it wouldn’t stun to still see him win today but with Stanley’s reservations and attitude to the Flying Stakes local hero Self Assured looks the better bet.
He has pleased the All Stars in training and never goes a bad race so if he steps evenly, which he has been doing this campaign, he has the tools to win the race in many different way.
Outside of the two favourites B D Joe continues to garner more respect with every run this campaign and while this is his toughest test yet it would surprise to not see him in the finish.
Today’s meeting is crammed with good races leading into more serious races at Addington over Cup week and Muscle Mountain will rightly be everybody’s multi anchor in the feature trot where anything like his best work will be good enough to win.
The same applies to unbeaten juvenile filly Millwood Nike (R4, No.4) while there is stable confidence True Fantasy (R6, No.6) will return to her best today after a heart fibrillation last start.
The favourites roll should continue with Darling Me (R10, No.8) but multi takers should beware in the first feature of the day when Franco Mac and Republican Party clash in race three.
Franco Mac holds the key to the race because he has the gate speed to lead Republican Party and while he has taken a trail in his last three starts driver Natalie Rasmussen has indicated she will attempt to hold the lead which could make life very difficult for Republican Party.
Another of the big battles will be Highgrove against his own mental fragilities and his rivals in the Hambletonian Trot for three-year-olds but as the winner of his only two starts at Ashburton the favourite makes the most appeal.