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Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard put two exciting three-year-olds to the black-type test this weekend and had wildly contrasting results.

In yesterday’s Gr. 3 Wellington Stakes at Otaki, The Boy Wonder clipped heels inside the last 100 metres and sent visiting Australian jockey Patrick Moloney crashing to the turf. Just over 24 hours later, in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial at Ellerslie, Moloney guided On The Rocks to a dominant front-running win.

The Alamosa colt had finished fifth in each of his first two starts, over 1200 metres and 1400 metres respectively, then took a big step forward with a three-length maiden win over 1600 metres at Tauranga.

Today was a much sterner test, taking on one of the New Zealand Derby favourites in the unbeaten Demonetization, along with impressive last-start winners Iago, Motivation, Secret Ambition and Mongolian Beauty.

On The Rocks began well from his ace draw and Moloney was able to give him an easy, uncontested lead.

Challengers came at him strongly in the straight, headed by Kapoor and Demonetization, but On The Rocks lifted and held on gamely to win by half a length.

It was the second win of Moloney’s two-day New Zealand stint, having also ridden the Moroney/Gerard runner Bocce to win yesterday’s two-year-old event at Otaki.

“This horse looked immaculate in the yard and ran accordingly,” Moloney said. “He relaxed beautifully in front and we were able to get some cheap sectionals, then he produced a good strong gallop down the straight.

“The owners obviously got a great thrill out of this. I hope they have an enjoyable celebration tonight while I’m flying back to Melbourne!”

Moloney was called across the Tasman to fill in for his compatriot Jake Bayliss, who has been riding with great success since arriving in this country early last month. He rode nine winners in November, including On The Rocks at Tauranga, but was side-lined by suspension this weekend.

Bayliss was at Ellerslie today and admitted to some mixed feelings.

“It’s obviously disappointing to miss the stakes ride today, but I’m really happy for the connections,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back on him later on.”

Bought by Paul Moroney for $40,000 as a Karaka yearling, On The Rocks is out of a half-sister to Victoria Derby and Melbourne Cup winner Efficient. The TAB now rates the colt a $12 equal second favourite for the Vodafone New Zealand Derby on March 3. He shares that quote with Age Of Fire and Demonetization, with Te Akau Shark the market leader at $10.

“We didn’t get it quite right in the Derby last season (Savile Row 12th as the favourite), but fingers crossed for this time,” Gerard said.

“It was a good win today. The draw was a big help and it was just a fantastic ride. He’s a lovely colt. You can do whatever you like with him. It’s very exciting.”
- The Informant
[02 Dec 17]


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