Rocket Man Earns Sprinter’s Stakes Start In Japan

He may not be journeying to Australia to take on Black Caviar in the Patinack Farm Classic in November, but Rocket Man has made a magnificent return to racing at his home track of Kranji last night.

The six-year-old gelding topped off two dominant barrier trials earlier this month with a five-length win over his rivals in the $125,000 race.

The win was a fantastic indication of Rocket Man’s form for trainer Patrick Shaw, who now plans to send his Australian-bred superstar to Japan for the Group 1 Sprinter’s Stakes at Nakayama on October 2.

“I was just saying to Michael Freedman how stressful the early runs can be,” Shaw said.

“You wonder if you have done all the right things to have the horse fit, so by the time the big races come about you are actually quite relaxed.

“We’ll have him checked tomorrow and make sure there are no problems with him and then we’ll press ahead with our plans for Japan.”

Rocket Man was due to run in last year’s Sprinter Stakes, however, weight concerns led Shaw to abandon the trip.

“We made a few changes to his training to make sure we left some weight on him,” Shaw said.

“He’s had a little less speed work and his trials have been a lot easier.

“The travel can take come weight off him so I’m being careful not to have him right at his top just yet.

“There is still plenty of time for that.”

Jockey Barend Vorster, who rode Rocket Man to victory in last night’s race, believes that the gelding was only at about 85% of his true potential in the race.

“I only showed him the stick but didn’t hit him,” Vorster said.

“He responded so well and I didn’t want to go hurting him too much with the Japan trip coming up.

“He was doing it all at his own pace down the back straight and he quickened up nicely when I asked him to on the home turn.

“I’m still expecting quite a bit of improvement to come from him with that run under him and no doubt it will sharpen him up.”

Rocket Man’s owner Fred Crabbia was lost for words when asked about the horse’s stunning performance.

“There’s not a lot more you can say about him,” Crabbia said.

“It’s a great thrill to be here to see him win so well again.”

Rocket Man has now won 17 of his 21 race starts and has accumulated close to $A4.3 million in prize money during his global campaigns.

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