Kiwi stayer rocks on first-up for new trainer

Rock On
Rock On (outside) pleased trainer Peter Gelagotis with his first up runner-up performance at Caulfield on Saturday. Photo credit Bruno Cannatelli

New Zealand stayer Rock On has made an encouraging start for Victorian trainer Peter Gelagotis.

The Road To Rock six-year-old joined Gelagotis’ Moe stable after winning his seventh race for Awapuni trainer and part-owner Gary Vile in the Te Aroha Cup (2200m) at Te Aroha on April 6 and produced a fine first-up effort from his new quarters when a half-head second to the imported stayer Alfarris over 2406m at Caulfield on Saturday with Cambridge stayer Felaar just a long neck back in third.

Rock On has remained in the same ownership and, though none of the five partners were on hand for the Caulfield run, Gelagotis was soon reporting back favourably on the performance. ‘’Peter rang me later on and he was very happy with the run,’’ Vile said. ‘’He expected a big run and so did we. He went over a fit horse, even though it was five weeks between runs. ‘’I think the horse that beat him is not a bad type and they’ve got a bit of an opinion of him.’’

Alfarris, a son of Shamardal, won four races up to 2050m in England before being imported into Australia to be trained by David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig. “Rock On will probably follow the Banjo Patterson series and we’ll see how he shapes up,’’ Vile said. ‘’If he gets to the Final I’ll probably go over for that. ‘’If he holds his head up he’ll probably end up staying over there. There are more opportunities for him in Melbourne than back here and the money is good, too.’’

The Banjo Patterson Series consists of qualifying races over the next six weeks leading up to the final (2600m) at Flemington on July 6. This is Rock On’s second campaign in Australia. He headed over two years ago after winning the New Zealand St Leger (2500m) at Trentham and was third in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick before filling the same placing in his other Australian start, over 2500m at Flemington. “The toughest thing for him now is that he has got to peak three times in the season,’’ Vile said. ‘’But Peter has got a good set-up over there and he can work him on the beach to get his spring back.’’

On the homefront, Vile has sent his other top stayer Jacksstar out for a spell after he finished among the tailenders in Saturday’s Group 3 Rotorua Cup (2200m). ‘’He just didn’t get around Rotorua in that ground,’’ Vile said. ‘’ He was gone at the 800m. ‘’We pushed on for that one more run as he had been going so well, but he’s had enough now. He’s sound as a bell so he can go out and have a good spell and we’ll make a plan for next season.’’ Jacksstar had bounced back from serious injury and a lengthy layoff to win the Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) and finish third in both the Listed Marton Cup (2200m) and Listed Hawke’s Bay Cup (2200m) this campaign.

Vile’s attention this coming weekend will be on Leading Role, Cape Du Jeu and Fattore Otto all competing at his local meeting on Saturday. ‘’Leading Role has had one run back and is coming up nicely,’’ he said. ‘’He loves the wet and he could do a bit of jumping this season. I’ve also got My Magician and Cornerstone getting ready for jumping. ‘’Cape Du Jeu also loves the wet and she did well last winter winning three races. I think she could get black type this time in. ‘’As for Fattore Otto, he’s still a maiden, but he’s a horse I’ve got a lot of time for. He’s a real staying type and he went a top race fresh-up.’’