Sunshine Coast trainer Tom Bourke will consider sending his promising sprinter Rocky King to Melbourne later this spring racing carnival if they can produce a win at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Easy Rocking four-year-old is one of 12 hopes for the $50,000 Netball Disney Classic Open Handicap (1300m) that they contest on the back of a black-type placing in Sydney.
A winner of 10 of their 25 starts to date the rising five-year-old came within three quarters of a length of Big Money when runner-up at Grafton last week in the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m).
That was an improved effort on their eighth to the same horse the run before at Eagle Farm in the Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes (1200m) on June 21 when they got checked going for a run on the inside, and one that impressed Bourke.
“It was probably the run of the race,” Bourke told AAP speaking of Rocky King’s Ramornie effort.
“If he had drawn a barrier he would have gone very close to winning as he was trapped deep for much of the race.”
The WJ Healy followed a first-up third when just a length off Cape Kidnappers in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1000m) also held at Eagle Farm.
A 1000m specialist, this weekend Rocky King will be tested over further than 1200m for the first time when going over 1300m which Bourke believes they can handle.
“He is getting stronger with age and I think the 1300 metres won’t be beyond him,” he said.
Their performance will help Bourke determine whether they’re worthy of a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival later this campaign targeting some of the easier sprint races and or series after a well-earned freshen-up.
“If he races well on Saturday we are looking at Melbourne later this year,” he said.
“There appears to be some spring races which would suit him.”
Included in those suitable races is the 55 second challenge at Moonee Valley where all the legs are held over 955m.
“A few people have mentioned it to me, they reckon Rocky King would be ideal for the series,” Bourke said.
“And there is a car at the end of it, who knows?”
The Ramornie Handicap aside Rocky King has raced exclusively in Queensland over their career that has so far produced $325,550 in prize money.
That’s great earnings from a horse snapped up from the 2011 Magic Millions QTIS 600 Yearling Sale for just $11,000 by connections.
On Saturday Rocky King has drawn wide in barrier 11 of 12 and will also carry 57.5kg, the second heaviest weight and one and a half kilos more than their Ramornie weight.
“I know he has drawn the outside but he should be able to get across easily enough,” Bourke said.
They also have a jockey change with Damian Browne, returning after a ride last Sunday in Singapore, to replace Tegan Harrison who is suspended on a careless riding charge for her Ramornie ride.
“It is bad luck for Tegan but Damian has won on Rocky King and there is no one better on leaders than him,” Bourke said.
Browne rides the horse for the first time since January 25 when they combined for a one and a half length win over 1000m at the track, Rocky King handling 59kg that day.
The Netball Disney Classic Open weights meanwhile are led by the Rob Heathcote-trained Excellantes (60.5kg) who won the Listed Ascot Handicap (1200m) with 59kg last start.
Also coming off a win is Kelly Doughty’s Gold Coast visitor Little Brown Horse, the Waterford Road mare having won her past two on the trot including over Avaladyluck at this distance on June 28 at the Sunshine Coast.
Another notable hope is then 2009 Golden Slipper winner Phelan Ready who will be out to break a five year drought.
Trainer Jason McLachlan has tried everything to get the former star juvenile back into the winner’s stall, the now seven-year-old More Than Ready gelding to be ridden by apprentice Luke Tarrant on Saturday.
Tarrant gets a big claim in the race so Phelan Ready will have just 50kg, the lightest weight they’ve ever carried and four kilos under the weight they had for a luckless ninth in the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) last time out.
“He didn’t have much luck last start when midfield in the Glasshouse Mountain Sprint,” McLachlan said.
“We have tried everything else so why not a claim?”
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