New Zealand horseman Trent Busuttin, who co-trains in Cambridge with partner Natalie Young, is eyeing the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival’s opening Group 1 race with the 2014 Memsie Stakes on the agenda for El Roca.
Originally Busuttin had the Fastnet Rock colt’s first Group 1 assignment for the new season down-up scheduled as the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28.
However the rising four-year-old has come back into work so well and made such great early progression that they will be seen racing in elite level company in Australia earlier than anticipated.
They will instead head towards the $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) second-up for the season at the same track on August 30 before the rest of their campaign is mapped out.
“I had him set for the Rupert Clarke Stakes and I was going to run in the Bobbie Lewis leading into it, but he’s back in work and he was jumping out of his skin,” Busuttin told Racing Victoria.
“He’s come up a lot quicker than expected and it was still a fair way away until (the Bobbie Lewis on) September the 13th.
“I had another look through the program, I had thought about the Memsie Stakes, and the way he’s come on and a lot quicker we just decided to bring his program forward a bit.”
A winner of three of their nine starts to date, El Roca has had all but two of their runs on Aussie soil.
After back-to-back wins to kick off their career back home last year they travelled to Melbourne last spring targeting the Caulfield Guineas.
They ran a nice second to Éclair Big Bang in the Prelude for the $1 million feature before being blocked for a run in the grand final over a mile when a disappointing fifth.
They returned to Australia after a four month break this autumn and got off on the right foot immediately winning a black-type at Rosehill in their Sydney debut.
Progressing through the grades well they came within a nose of Dissident when second in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) against their own kind in mid-March before stepping up to open company a fortnight later.
Contesting the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) El Roca ran an excellent third a length off the winner Gordon Lord Byron.
Last start they ran a luckless ninth in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in the mud on April 12 after getting caught wide form their awkward barrier 16 of 20 draw.
Busuttin will give the galloper a New Zealand trial on August 5 before they make the trip across the Tasman four days later ahead of their resuming run in the $120,000 Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on August 16.
From there they tackle the Memsie Stakes field that is shaping up as a beauty with the likes of Rebel Dane, Moment Of Change, Lord Of The Sky and Jet Away all heading towards a run in the season’s first Group 1.
Still unsure whether the horse is a genuine mile hope, Busuttin has all but ruled them out of a run in the next elite level on the program – $400,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 13.
“My thoughts are he doesn’t get a really strong mile, even though he hasn’t really had his best opportunity in them,” he said.
“If he can get a Group 1 under his belt early on, say in the Memsie, I’d probably freshen him up and aim up towards a couple of sprint races later on in the Carnival.
“If he ran second or third or fourth or something in the Memsie, then you’ve still got the Rupert Clarke which is probably a nice winnable Group 1 handicap race where he’d get in well at the weights.”
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