El Roca vindicated the decision of trainer Trent Busuttin to bring him to Australia with his second place finish in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on Sunday but Busuttin admits he was slightly disappointed with the result.
El Roca dashed clear to a three lengths lead coming around the final turn but tired in the final stages of the race and was caught by Éclair Big Bang.
Busuttin said that jockey Craig Newitt pushed the button too early and believes that the Fastnet Rock colt would have won the race with a better timed ride.
“The jockey got itchy before the turn and could have held him up a bit more and it might have been a different result,” Busuttin told The New Zealand Racing Desk.
“He will be ridden a lot more conservatively in the Guineas.”
While Busuttin was clearly disappointed with the ride of Newitt he was delighted with the performance of El Roca and confirmed that the three-year-old would remain in Australia for the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12.
“He ran very well and we’re proud to have a runner in a $1 million race in a couple of weeks’ time,” Busuttin said.
“It was a big call and I think the last New Zealand three-year-old who looked like measuring up in the Caulfield Guineas was Our Maizcay, who then won it.”
Busuttin has been a regular visitor to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in recent years and won the 2011 edition of the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) with Sangster but believes he has never had a horse that has relished Australian conditions as much as El Roca.
“He’s super and of the half a dozen or so horses I’ve travelled to Australia I’ve never had one settle in as well and thrive like he has,” Busuttin said.
“We got as much work into him as we could, but he still looked a bit pretty in the birdcage so there is more natural improvement to come.”
Busuttin will have another runner in Melbourne this Saturday; with Melbourne Cup contender Sangster set to take part in the star-studded Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.