The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Local hope Rock Magic may be a rising nine-year-old but Ascot trainer Chris Gangemi is confident his evergreen sprinter is fitter than ever ahead of Saturday’s Winterbottom Stakes 2017.
Last Perth Summer Racing Carnival Rock Magic improved on an eighth the season prior to run a flashing third under a length off the winner Takedown in the Group 1 $1 million Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) despite having quartered a heel just a few days prior.
This weekend the son of Redoute’s Choice returns for a third shot at W.A.’s premier sprint race and Gangemi believes Rock Magic presents in his best form yet.
“Most horses don’t get better at eight but he’s the fittest he’s ever been,” Gangemi told The West Australian this week.
“He used to just be a fresh horse but he comes through every run super now.”
Twelve months ago the horse backed-up out of a lead-up second in the Group 3 Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) at home.
His campaign into the Winterbottom Stakes field for 2017 has been completely different, the Perth sprinter in Melbourne for four brave spring runs.
After back-to-back victories at home in the winter, Rock Magic was competitive first-up at Moonee Valley on September 29 running one and a half lengths back fourth to the gun filly She Will Reign in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m).
Next-up at Caulfield he was closer again when a quarter length third to Super Cash in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) before returning to The Valley to cross three lengths back seventh to Hey Doc in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
His final Victorian run before heading back east was at Flemington down the famous straight on November 11 where Rock Magic finished under four lengths away sixth in his midfield sixth to Redzel as a $41 roughie in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m).
Far from disgraced against the world’s best sprinters during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Rock Magic is back home and ready to fire on Saturday with regular Jarrad Noske also back aboard.
“After every run in Melbourne he was bouncing out of his skin,” Gangemi said.
“That was why he had all four runs. He travelled back well and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Rock Magic is one of the best in the post-field Winterbottom Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $6 to salute.
Fellow local and last start Colonel Reeves Stakes winner State Solicitor, to be ridden by William Pike, is the $3 favourite ahead of Adelaide-trained mare Viddora ($4).
“Hopefully nothing goes wrong in the next six days and if he gets there in good order, he’ll be a big chance,” Gangemi added, speaking of the hoof issues that lead into Rock Magic’s placing last year and caused the 2015 Winterbottom Stakes withdrawal.
Gangemi also saddles-up Durendal in the race, a $26 shot in Winterbottom Stakes betting to be ridden by Shaun McGruddy.
Noske rode the Medaglia D’Oro six-year-old in his lead-up third to State Solicitor in the Colonel Reeves.
Durendal will be better stepping-up to 1200m (15:6-1-4), but from seven starts at Ascot has failed to win.
Check out the full Winterbottom Stakes 2017 betting markets online now through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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