Retirement is the furthest thing from the mind of trainer Ken Fythe for his old stager Rockpecker as the nine year old lines up in the $100,000 The 65 Roses Victoria Cup (1440m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Rockpecker will be saddling up for his sixty second start on Saturday and Fythe says that the old timer is ready to produce his best after performing fairly at his two runs back from a spell.
“He’s been a terrific horse and his age doesn’t worry me with the way he’s been trained, he’s sound as a bell,” Fythe said.
“He spends his days in the paddock and comes in at night he’s got a pretty good life.”
Fythe owes Rockpecker’s longevity down to the fact that gelding didn’t race until his three year old season and has reaped the rewards of nine wins and earnings of over $600,000.
Rockpecker has overcome a foot abscess which kept him off the track for most of the winter but Fythe is happy with the progress of the nine year old going into Saturday’s race.
“I didn’t have a great winter with him, it was terribly wet down here and he had a foot abscess which kept him out of racing for a while,” Fythe said.
“I’m pretty happy with him heading into Saturday, he looks well and has trained on since his last start,” Fythe said.
“Third up at 1400 metres should be ideal, I was quite happy with his two first up runs I think he just got a bit far out of his ground at Sandown last time.”
Fythe has called on the services of three kilo claiming apprentice Tom Sadler to reduce Rockpecker’s weight down to a manageable 57kg to assist his chances of winning his first race at Caulfield following his second up eighth to Mid Summer Music in the Listed $120,000 TMB Printing Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sportingbet Sandown Park on Novemebr 17.
“I just hope Tom takes note of how Craig rides the horse and is nice and positive, if he does then I think the he will be pretty hard to beat.”
While the 1440m is one of Rockpecker’s favourite distances, he will have to overcome a Caulfield hoodoo after only being placed once from six attempts on the tricky circuit.
Top jockey Craig Williams was the last rider to win on Rockpecker when a 1400m Flemington winner five starts back but is out of contention for the ride due to his overseas commitments in Japan and Hong Kong.
The Victoria Cup has pulled together a fair field after the Spring Carnival with premier trainer Peter Moody supplying three of the top chances.
Moody will saddle up topweight Highly Recommended and Shout Out Loud who finished in the vicinity of Rockpecker in the Heffernan Stakes and White Universe who is first up after not racing since finishing third over 2000m at Flemington in September 2011.