Trainer Trent Busuttin has revealed that he will not decide whether El Roca will take his place in the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Warwick Farm until the morning of the race after including the talented colt in the acceptances for the Listed Canberra Guineas (1400m).
The Randwick Guineas preparations of El Roca were thrown out of sync when he was controversially withdrawn from the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday by Racing New South Wales stewards due to a raceday treatment.
Busuttin told Sky Racing HQ that the Canberra Guineas would be an ideal race for El Roca, but is leaning towards running the son of Fastnet Rock in the Liverpool City Cup because it gives him a full week to recover before the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) next Saturday.
“The Canberra race is the softer option and is probably an ideal race for him, against his own age group and over 1400,” Busuttin said.
“His main aim is the Randwick Guineas next Saturday and he is going to back up in there, so he would have a day less to get over the run if we go to Canberra.
“The main thing is the travel down there, which is three hours there and three hours back, and you have to consider all of those things and weigh them up against what would be the harder one against the older horses on a wet track on Saturday.”
El Roca has had no experience on rain-affected tracks during his racing career, but after speaking to jockey James McDonald Busuttin believes that the three-year-old would have no trouble getting through a slow Warwick Farm track this weekend.
“We are leaning towards Warwick Farm, but the prospect of a very heavy track would swing the other way,” Busuttin said.
“We will have to wait as late as possible, but I’ve had a good chat to James McDonald about the tracks over here.
“While the horse hasn’t been on a slow or heavy track, I am fairly confident that he would get through it and our tracks in New Zealand get far wetter than yours and James gave me a good insight into the tracks here.
“The slow seven and maybe even a heavy eight would be ok.”
While Busuttin remains unhappy that El Roca was withdrawn from the Hobartville Stakes, he is still delighted with the condition of the star galloper and was happy with his work during the week.
El Roca has been well respected in betting markets for the Liverpool City Cup and Busuttin is confident that the talented colt will be competitive in whichever race he contests this weekend, but admits that the Group 3 event at Warwick Farm has drawn a strong field.
“He galloped with one of Gai Waterhouse’s horses, Liberty’s Choice, and Hugh Bowman was rapt with his work,” Busuttin said.
“I thought that it was winning work and I can’t get the horse any better.
“He has a little bit of improvement left in him going into the Randwick Guineas, but he is fit enough to be competitive wherever he goes.
“It is a competitive race on Saturday, with the likes of Terravista and White Sage, and you have all the tough handicappers who have been beaten by only two or three lengths in races like the Epsom and the Emirates Stakes.
“It is a hard enough task.”