Randwick horseman John Sargent is hoping Kiwi galloper Rock On gains a start in the rescheduled 2017 Sydney Cup field this weekend with the stayer gaining valuable experience for the end-of-year Melbourne Cup.
Sent over from the Awapuni stables of his former New Zealand trainer and part-owner Gary Vile, four-year-old Rock On is one of sixteen current entries for the rerun of the $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on Saturday.
The Royal Randwick classic originally took place on April 8, but was voided after the tragic fall and subsequent euthanisation of Almoonqith, and the mid-race decision by Racing NSW stewards to abandon the event.
Eleven of the original contenders in the Sydney Cup field were re-entered for this weekend’s edition, while Rock On is one of five new entries for the autumn feature that also includes Crown Oaks winner Lasqueti Spirit.
Rock On won the Listed NZ St Leger (2500m) across the Tasman back home on March 18 before debuting in Australia under the preparation of the Sydney-based Sargent on April 1 as a way to get the galloper accustomed to racing down under before the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) during the spring.
“Originally he was sent over for just the one run,” Vile told AAP, Stuff this week.
“But of course with the Sydney Cup fiasco it opened up the opportunity for him to run in the rescheduled race.
“It was never the intention for him to go to another trainer but I’m busy at home and it was easier to send the horse to Sarge [Sargent].
“I have no fears about him going two miles and talking to Sarge this morning [Tuesday] he galloped great.
“He’s a lovely horse but it will be a strong field he meets and whether the Sydney Cup comes a bit soon for him who knows – it’s worth a lot of money and will tell us a lot about the horse.”
The gelding ran a nice third when only three lengths off the Darren Weir-trained winner Big Duke in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at the Randwick track.
Rock On is listed as a $26 shot in futures Sydney Cup betting and is as yet to guarantee a start.
He sits fifteenth on the updated Sydney Cup ballot, with the field having a capacity of fourteen starters, so needs a guaranteed runner to drop out to make the starting line-up.
“There’s one [Annus Mirabilis] debating whether to pay up after a gallop,” Sargent said.
“There may be others, fingers crossed.
“Now that he’s got fresh legs we thought the race would suit him. He’s acclimatised.
“This was a trip over to give him experience for Melbourne in the spring and he’s done that well.
“Now there’s a $2 million dollar race, you might as well try and run in it.”
A son of the 2017 AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Road To Rock, Road To Rock is also part-owned by Bill Gleeson who had a share in Sargent’s 2013 VRC Oaks winner Kirramosa.
The galloper carried 55.5kg in the Chairman’s Handicap and dropping to just 51.5kg should he make the Sydney Cup field makes him a “good lightweight chance” according to Sargent.
Check out the latest Sydney Cup 2017 odds and futures Melbourne Cup betting markets online now at Ladbrokes.com.au to back your favourite stayers at the best possible prices.