Trainer Trent Busuttin has confirmed that his star galloper El Roca is on track to return to the races in the 2015 BTC Cup at Doomben on May 9.
El Roca has not been seen at the races since he suffered a tendon injury in the lead-up to the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 13 last year and there was speculation that he would be retired to stand at stud, but the Fastnet Rock entire has been patiently nursed back to full health.
The four-year-old was originally set to make the trip to Australia this week ahead of the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday, but Busuttin told Racing.com that El Roca would instead be given a barrier trial in New Zealand before he returns to racing in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m).
Busuttin believes that El Roca is fit enough to run well first-up in the BTC Cup, but he is confident that the returning entire will take plenty of benefit from the run heading into the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben on May 23 and the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at the same venue on June 9.
“I would have liked to have run him in the on the Gold Coast on Saturday but we’ve ran out of time and he’s not fit enough yet so we’ll go to the BTC Cup and then into the Doomben 10,000 and hopefully then into the Stradbroke all going well,” Busuttin said.
“His injury is 100%, it’s perfect.
“It’s obviously never good when they have an injury but the prognosis was good as long as he was given the right amount of time.
“He’s carrying plenty of condition at the moment so we’ll have to tighten the screws in the next three weeks, but he’ll present at the races looking good, albeit there will definitely be improvement in him from his first-up run to his second-up run.
“He is a colt and he’s going to have been off the scene for 13 months and there’s nothing like race fitness.
“While I certainly expect him to run a good race first-up, the Doomben 10,000 and the Stradbroke are the main aims.”
El Roca has long been considered New Zealand’s most exciting stallion prospects, but he is still chasing a maiden win at Group 1 level after finishing a close second behind Dissident in the Group 1 Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) last year.
El Roca is currently available at 2015 Stradbroke Handicap odds of $17, while Our Boy Malachi ($4.50) is a clear favourite from Lucky Hussler ($9), Craftiness ($11) and Delectation ($11).