El Roca has not had an ideal preparation for the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but trainer Trent Busuttin is happy with the talented entire ahead of his return to racing in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 13.
El Roca was set to start his spring campaign in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on August 16 before returning to Group 1 level for the Memsie Stakes (1400m) at the same venue a fortnight later, but the son of Fastnet Rock was withdrawn from both races after he was treated for a fever in the lead-up to the Regal Roller Stakes.
Busuttin was disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to record a maiden Group 1 victory with El Roca in the Memsie Stakes, but is happy with the progress that the four-year-old has taken from the setback and is confident that the stallion prospect can still have a strong spring campaign.
“He’ll resume in the Bobbie Lewis and he’ll be primed second-up for the Rupert Clarke Stakes,” Busuttin told AAP.
“He obviously had that little hiccup that set him back a little bit which was not ideal but it’s better to happen at the start of the carnival than half-way through it.
“I’m very happy with him now.”
El Roca has been unable to win a Group 1 event, but he has performed consistently at the highest level of racing since he was sent to Australia in September last year after recording new impressive wins in New Zealand.
The valuable entire made his Australian racing debut with an impressive second behind Éclair Big Bang in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 29 before he finished a luckless fifth in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12.
El Roca started his autumn campaign with a strong win in the Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 15 before he recorded a string of placings in the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m), Group 1 Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
He has form around Memsie Stakes winner Dissident and Busuttin said that he was happy to see the four-year-old form stack up so early in the season.
“It franks the form around El Roca,” Busuttin said.
“He beat Dissident (in the Eskimo Prince Stakes) and then Dissident beat him in a photo finish in the Randwick Guineas.
“I’m just pleased the horse is back now and going well.”
El Roca will defend his unbeaten first-up record in the Bobbie Lewis Quality this weekend.