Joes Rock leads southern raid
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Southland trainer Brett Gray is looking forward to heading to Addington Raceway on Friday where he will line-up Joes Rock in the Group 1 Fahey Fence Hire 51st NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) at 7.54pm.
The daughter of Racing Hill bypassed last month’s Group 2 Premier Mares Championship (1980m), taken out by Leeston mare Folklore, and he is happy with his mare heading into the Group 1 feature in a fresh state.
“We have targeted this race. We missed the first one as this one was more her distance and I wanted to come in a wee bit fresher,” Gray said.
Joes Rock finished runner-up behind Folklore last start and Gray took plenty of confidence out of her subsequent six-length win in the Group Two feature.
“It (last start) was the first time we have been able to do a lot out of the gate with her,” Gray said.
“She has always been a bit hard to get out of the gate. She went forward and we just got bombed late by Folklore.
“It gives us a bit of hope that we will definitely be competitive anyway.”
Joes Rock has won five and placed in 10 of her 21 starts to date and Gray is confident of another bold showing after drawing barrier five.
“She is a very consistent mare,” he said. “She is not a big mare and we try to space her races a wee bit, but she has got a good turn of foot and is best saved for one run, pretty similar to Folklore.
“I am really happy with her leading into Friday. We have put a lot of effort into her and hopefully things work out for her.”
Joes Rock is currently at an $11 quote with favourite Allamericanlover backed into $2.20 and the Bob Butt-trained pair of Callie's Delight ($6) and Manhattan ($7.50) also well supported.
Joes Rock will return south after Friday’s contest where she will prepare for the Southern Belle Speed Final and try to qualify for the Country Cups Final.
“We have got the Southern Belle Speed down here and I might line her up in a Country Cup to qualify for the final. I don’t want to do that too much, I want to stick to the fillies and mares races as much as I can,” Gray said.
Meanwhile, Gray will have six horses to Riverton on Sunday, including Julie Jaccka who will make her debut in the Bill Keast Memorial Trot (2200m).
“We have got another first starter called Julie Jaccka lining up on Sunday,” Gray said. “She has been going quite nicely at the trials and workouts.”