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Mandy Shillito’s veteran sprinter Rocking Force may not have had ‘first place’ next to their name since Crown Oaks Day of 2011 but after an encouraging first-up run at the start of the month there is confidence in the camp heading into Saturday’s 2013 Kensington Stakes at Flemington Racecourse.
This year’s $120,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) has drawn a final field of only six horses, Rocking Force the equal 59kg top-weight along with the defending champ First Command.
The Oamaru Force eight-year-old was disappointing leading up to last year’s spring carnival with two below par runs in Melbourne, including 15th to We’re Gonna Rock in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality, and was sent for a spell.
“Last preparation he had a couple of joint issues and I was never happy with him which is why we put him straight out after the Bobbie Lewis,” Shilito said.
Winner of the Listed Swisse Vitamins Stakes (1000m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival two years back, Rocking Force raced over the 1000m at Flemington for the first time since in their resuming run on January 5 this year.
Their four month break seemed to have worked as they caught the eye with a good second crossing one and a quarter lengths off the Anthony Freedman-trained First Command surprising even their St Leonards-based trainer.
“We thought he was as good as he could be going into his first up run but you never really know until they run,” she said.
In that run they jumped from barrier two of eight and carried 56.5kg, First Command on 60kg, so Shillito knows Rocking Force will need to be at their best when they go up to an increased weight equal with their last-start conqueror.
“Unless First Command has some bad luck or is held up for a run I don’t think we can beat him on Saturday (on level weights) but if we could run second behind him again I’d be very happy,” she said.
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