Jockey Michael Rodd said that Rock Hero definitely needed the Cranbourne trial yesterday as his final hit out leading into the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Rock Hero is still learning to gallop the Melbourne way after only one run in the anti-clockwise direction and Rodd noted that the David Payne colt still wanted to wander around as he hit the front before winning the 1190m barrier trial at Cranbourne.
“It was good, he needed a hit out,” Rodd told TVN.
“But he gets lost when he hit the front, he did the same again today. He’s just a big, gross colt who needed the hit out.
“Every time I sat up on him, he did what he did at Caulfield last start and get off the track. He wants to go back on his Sydney leg.”
Rock Hero was sent out the $3.30 favourite for the Group 2 $220,000 Hyland Race Colours Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8 and after sitting at the leader’s girth, Rodd let the colt slide to the front on the home turn only to be run down by the Anthony Cummings trained Thunder Fantasy.
Rock Hero, who is marked at the good odds of $19, will clash with Thunder Fantasy ($11) again in the Australian Guineas with both colts to face some tough opposition from last start Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes winner Hucklebuck ($3.70 favourite), Group 1 C F Orr Stakes runner up Eurozone ($4.60) and last year’s Group 1 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award ($7).
Payne said that Rock Hero usually needs a few runs to gain his race fitness and is not worried about giving him a trial five days before the Australian Guineas.
“We weren’t looking for a time but we wanted to give him a hit out,” Payne said.
“He’s a big gross horse and needed it. He usually takes a few runs.”
Rodd is looking forward to Rock Hero stepping up to the 1600m after the Fastnet Rock colt showed his liking for the mile with a win in the Listed $100,000 TAB Dulcify Quality (1600m) at Randwick last October.
“The mile is going to suit him and Flemington will suit him,” Rodd said.
Leading Morphettville trainer Phillip Stokes has reported that Hucklebuck has pleased him in a track gallop this morning and the Australian Guineas favourite will head to Melbourne on Thursday night.
“I was very pleased with his work, I liked what I saw this morning,” Stokes said.
“All being well between now and Thursday he’ll be on the float Thursday night heading across.”