Former Kiwi galloper Rock ‘N’ Pop is set to reignite the successful association of Sydney’s glamour trainer Gai Waterhouse and New Zealand owner David Ellis when he kicks off his Spring campaign at Warwick Farm tomorrow.
New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner and Derby runner up, Rock ‘N’ Pop is set to step out for the first time for Waterhouse in the Group 2 $175,000 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m) heading towards the Group 1 $500,000 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 6 and possibly the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
Ellis provided Waterhouse with her first Group 1 winner back in 1992 when Te Akau Nick saluted in the Metropolitan Handicap and he would love to share another Group 1 success with the Tulloch Lodge trainer.
“We gave Gai her first Group 1 winner when Te Akau Nick won the 1992 Metropolitan Handicap , he won the Chairman’s Handicap, the St. Leger and ran second in the Melbourne Cup,” Ellis said.
Rock ‘N’ Pop was transferred to Waterhouse after New Zealand trainer Jason Bridgman brought the then three year old to Australia when he was unplaced in the Group 1 $500,000 Flinders Lane Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill on March 31.
Bridgman crossed the Tasman with the Fastnet Rock colt after winning the Group 1 NZ$400,000 Sothy’s 39th NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park in November last year and running second to Silent Achiever in the Group 1 NZ$750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 3.
Rock ‘N’ Pop has pleased the Waterhouse stable for his return to racing with two Randwick barrier trials wins indicating a forward showing in the Warwick Stakes.
“The Warwick Stakes is a race that Gai’s had in mind since the horse came into work at the end of May. He has worked up nicely in both his trials and I think Gai’s very happy with the horse,” Ellis said.
Ellis is hopeful that Roc ‘N’ Pop will reach the heights of top New Zealander Jimmy Choux who arrived in Australia in March last year with the New Zealand Derby win beside his name.
Jimmy Choux went on to win the Rosehill Guineas and was runner up to Pinker Pinker in last year’s Cox Plate after winning two more Group 1s at Hasting in New Zealand.
“Jimmy Choux won our Derby, Rock ‘N’ Pop finished second in it, so you have to say Jimmy Choux has got the record on the board but I think this horse will finish up with just as a good a record,” Ellis said.
Stable rider Nash Rawiller got a feel for the Rock ‘N’ Pop in one of his barrier trials and is expecting a forward showing from the four year old.
“He trialled well and indicated that his foot is on the till and he’s going to come out and run well, I am looking forward to the race,” Rawiller said.
“We’re of the opinion that he may be best suited at around the mile and the mile and a quarter, so keeping that in mind you’d expect 1400m nice and fresh to be ideal for him.”
Rock ‘N’ Pop is prominent in the market order for the Warwick Stakes at $5.50 with Secret Admirer on the second line of betting behind Peter Snowden’s Pinwheel at $3.80.
Peter Moody’s Lights Of Heaven, who had a short break after returning to winning form in Brisbane over the Winter Carnival is next in line at $7.