Success in Saturday’s Listed Gallagher Marton Cup (2100m) with Leading Role would provide a welcome boost for Gary Vile.
The Awapuni trainer was rocked this week when his well-performed stayer Rock On broke down.
“I’m shattered, he was galloping on Wednesday and did a tendon so he’s out for six months,” Vile said. “It’s a hard, hard game.”
Rock On won the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2500m) last season to earn a trip to Australia where he ran third in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2800m) at Randwick and fourth in a 2500m handicap at Flemington.
The Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) had been the aim for the five-year-old, who won two starts back before finishing fourth in the Group 3 Waikato Cup (2400m).
Leading Role has a chance to lift stable spirits on Saturday and Vile is planning a change of tactics.
“A bit of rain would help his chances and he will be ridden a lot more aggressively,” Vile said.
“He got too far back in the Manawatu Cup and he had no show from back there.”
Placed in the Group 3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) last season, the four-year-old was an unlucky second two starts back at Awapuni. He was held up for a run and only got clear in the closing 100m.
Stablemate Slimline is also rated a strong chance in the Central ITM Premier (1400m) following her bold effort for third in the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m).
“She can go a cheeky race,” Vile said. “Weight-for-age didn’t suit her last time and she drops four kilos, 53kg is a great weight for her.”