Important step towards $1m Race by Grins for Aussie pacer

By Adam Hamilton

Caretaker trainer Cran Dalgety admits Thursday night will be a big learning curve for Aussie raider Rock N Roll Doo.

The former Victoria Cup and Len Smith Mile winner opens his NZ campaign from a back row draw in the star-studded $60,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Pacers Flying Mile at Cambridge, against the likes of Don't Stop Dreaming and Merlin.

It's a key race, just eight days out from the $1m Race by Grins, also at Cambridge.

“He hasn’t been here long, but he's a big, raw, rubber-neck sort of fella and we’re going to learn a lot more about him in this race,” Dalgety said.

“I’ve been chatting a lot with Mick (Stanley, trainer) and he’s told me about his quirks, but the ability is obviously there.

“I’d be pleasantly surprised if he came out and won this week, but, equally, he should run well on his form before leaving Aussie and what we’ve seen here so far.

“I like the draw, two-out on the back row. He’ll be in the running line without doing any work and you can’t say that for quite a few others draw wide on a track where the first bend comes up really quickly.

“It’s a hard race to read, but there’s no shortage of nice horses in it.

“We’re just looking forward to getting him to the races and seeing where we sit.

“The main reason we’re going this week is to find out more about him and then we can tinker with anything we might need to before the big one the week after.”

Owner Brendan James confirmed Anthony Butt had booked to drive Rock N Roll Doo in his NZ races.

Butt has driven him at his past three Aussie runs, including a close second in the Group 1 Lighthorse free-for-all – basically a Miracle Mile consolation – at Menangle on March 9.

“He’s been here about a week and settled in well,” Dalgety said. “Now it’s time to find out more about where we sit with him.”

Rock N Roll Doo won the Group 1 Len Smith Mile on September 2, last year and backed-up to add the Maryborough Cup 13 days later.

But the big, rangy pacer has been winless in 10 starts since.

For James, returning to NZ comes with mixed emotions.

Rock N Roll Doo had an unsuccessful NZ Cup campaign in late 2022 and then landed the “Aussie Lads” slot in last year’s Race By Grins before health issues and form slump saw his trip aborted.

“We’re thrilled he got a slot (Barrett Homes) this year and there’s definitely some unfinished business,” James said.

“We’ve also got the option to stay for races like the Taylor Mile, Messenger and even the Auckland Cup if we’re happy with him over there.”

To see the Flying Mile field click here



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