Earlier fears that Singapore’s star sprinter Rocket Man would bypass the chance to take on the best racehorse in the world, Black Caviar, at this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival have been eased with connections of the talented gelding set to embark on a trip down under to investigate the quarantine issues.
Winner of the Group 1 Krisflyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore in May, the Patrick Bernard Shaw-trained Rocket Man earned eligibility for Victoria Racing Club’s lucrative Patinack Farm Classic bonus.
Run on Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington on November 5, the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1400m) then begun to take shape as the sprint showdown of the century.
With Peter Moody’s undefeated turf queen Black Caviar set to defend her Patinack Farm Classic title, and the news Rocket Man would be there to challenge, Victoria Racing Club officials and racing fans around Australia started the countdown.
Doubts began to surface on Rocket Man’s Aussie appearance this spring, however, when owner Fred Crabbia made the announcement that Rocket Man would run in the A$2.3 million Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama in Japan on October 2.
“We are going to Japan because we were told that Black Caviar was going there so we wanted to go there,” Crabbia said.
“But the other race is obviously the Patinack in Australia.”
The Sprinters Stakes is the seventh leg of the Global Sprint Challenge series, and by running in the event Rocket Man could possibly be unable to take on Black Caviar in Melbourne the following month due to quarantine conditions.
Crabbia, however, said the Patinack was still on the agenda.
“We are definitely on the go for that (the Patinack), and in early August we will talk to them about the quarantine situation and if that is all okay we are definitely going to go.”
Although conceding confusion over the quarantine requirements, Rocket Man’s trainer Patrick Shaw further eased the VRC’s growing concerns by stating that his main priority for the horse was still the Patinack Farm Classic.
Shaw also expressed qualms over the quality of the Werribee quarantine station in Victoria, where Rocket Man would be stabled, stating the track surface and conditions there as a key concern.
“I’m coming out (to Australian) on the fifth (of August) to have a look at the facility and also get to the bottom of the quarantine issue,” Shaw said.
“From there I’ll make my mind up, but I’d love to be there for a clash in the Patinack.
“It would be a lovely race.
“But I’ve heard they’ve had some trouble with the track.”
With Shaw also eyeing off a start in the prestigious Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December, a viable target for sprint machine Black Caviar also, the trainer has additional reservations based on the fact that following their Australian campaign Rocket Man would possibly have to spend time in a Singapore quarantine facility where working the horse was not an option.
Attempting to alleviate Shaw’s many worries and ensure the Rocket Man v Black Caviar battle takes place, Racing Victoria’s racing operations manager Paul Bloodworth said that going straight to Hong Kong after the Patinack should present few issues.
“In that case he can go straight to Hong Kong and quarantine there without being out of work,” Mr Bloodworth explained.
A multiple elite level winner, Rocket Man would be a major drawcard for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival especially as the rising six-year-old is Australian-bred being by top sire Viscount.
“In many ways, he’s an Aussie horse,” Shaw said.
“So it’s something we’d be very keen to do.”
The horse boasts 16 wins from 20 career starts to date including three successive Group 1 Lion City Cup wins in Singapore, a victory in the 2011 Dubai Golden Shaheen and multiple Group 1 placings including in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint when Rocket Man went down by a mere nose to South Africa’s JJ The Jet Plane.
Shaw has Rocket Man back in light work at home in Singapore after the galloper enjoyed a brief break following their Krisflyer International Sprint success, and said he would resume racing next month.
“I’m preparing him for a racing return at the end of August,” Shaw confirmed.
“Ideally we’d like to have a race or two and maybe a couple of trials before heading Down Under.
“And as I’ve said all along, we’d love to take on Black Caviar.”