Kiwi based colt El Roca is set for another shot at Group 1 glory down under in the autumn with trainer Trent Busuttin keen to return for the Australian Guineas 2014 in March.
The Cambridge-based Busuttin bought his Fastnet Rock three-year-old El Roca to Melbourne from New Zealand this spring targeting the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
After winning their opening two career starts at home, including the Listed Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka in September by two lengths, they arrived down under in September.
It was a nice debut here too as they finished only three quarters of a length away second to Éclair Big Bang in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
Stepping up to the mile for the first time a fortnight later they could then only manage to run six and a half lengths off the Caulfield Guineas winner Long John when fifth in the big Group 1.
Busuttin has been happy with their progress since however and is keen to give them another go in Victoria during the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Their main goal will be the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1, for which they are already in work for.
“He had the saddle on his back for the first time yesterday and we’ll look to kick him off around the end of January or the start of February,” Bussuttin told Racing Victoria on Tuesday.
“He did really well during his break. We haven’t given him too long out, being a big heavy colt you don’t want to let them get too far away on you but I’m very happy with him and hopefully we can have a bit more luck in running then what we did over there last time.”
Co-trained in New Zealand by Busuttin and Natalie Young, El Roca is likely to return in Melbourne without a first-up run at home based on the layout of the autumn three-year-old races.
“There are number of options for his lead-up runs but at this stage with the programming he probably will head straight to Australia and run third-up in the Australian Guineas,” Busuttin said.
If the colt comes on well next year there’s also a chance they will stay on in Melbourne for a shot at other features including the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) back at Flemington on March 8 or the $500,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) in Sydney the following Saturday.
“You never know, we’ll play it by ear after that but there are plenty of options for him after the Guineas and he could target a race like the Australian Cup or the Randwick Guineas,” Busuttin added.
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