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THIRD STAKES WIN FOR ON THE ROCKS

In taking out the $100,000 Rich Hill Mile (Gr.2, 1600m) on New Year’s Day, On the Rocks (4 h Alamosa – Cold Shoulder, by Volksraad) recorded his third stakes win at Ellerslie.

A course winner of the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m) and Trevor Eagle Memorial (Listed, 1500m), and a solid performer in the NZ Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), On the Rocks had resumed with a game performance off a wide run for third in the Rating 82 1500 metres on Saturday 8 December at Ellerslie, and worked very well leading up to his second-up outing.

Co-trainer Pam Gerard said: “We were very happy with his work through the week and he got in with a light weight. It was a huge step up in class, as good a field as we get, but he has an X factor”.

Shedding weight to 52.5kgs, half a kilo over the carded impost, rider Jake Bayliss had On the Rocks away nicely from barrier eight, escaped a three wide situation to slot in seventh at the 1300m and one of the only horses to really emerge from the pack he finished powerfully to win convincingly.

On Good3 footing, On the Rocks ran the 1600 metres in a commendable 1:34.4. On the fifth line of NZ TAB fixed odds betting ($10.00 & $3.30) a day out from the race, he tightened considerably nearer post time to end up running favourite: $5.00 & $2.00 fixed.

“The weights came out 52kgs and I told Pam I’d give it my best shot. I really wanted to ride him and his work’s been great,” Bayliss said. “He’s one of my favourite horses, so I set myself a goal, had a week to do it, surrounded by great people too: Tommy Hazlett, Pam, Darren and Louise Weatherley, and they all really helped me when I emptied the barrel during the week. They picked me up and gave me the confidence, so a lot of hard work and I was basically a vegetarian for a week and looking forward to a good steak tonight.

“He had plenty up his sleeve. I did the weight because I had trust in the horse; his work had been great.”

Owned by Andrew Clark, David Sinn, Adrian Mathieson, Noel Gurney, Richards Sims, Mount R.S.A Racing Syndicate, Ballymore (NZ), George Alas, Jim Bebedellis, and John McNicholas, On the Rocks was selected by Paul Moroney and purchased for $40,000, from the draft of Wellfield Stud, at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale, a descendant from the family of Melbourne Cup winner and champion Australian staying horse Efficient (Zabeel).

On the Rocks has now won four of his 10 starts and accumulated $190,575 in prize money.

“I thought it was a great win and a very good ride,” said co-trainer Mike Moroney. “Jake wasted pretty hard to ride him, and Pam has done a great job with this colt. I was going to take him to Australia, but we changed our minds and left him here and he could now go down and run in the Thorndon Mile.

The $200,000 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (Gr. 1, 1600m) is raced on Wellington Cup Day, 19 January, at Trentham. Moroney also said the weight-for-age $400,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) could be ideal for On the Rocks on 9 February at Te Rapa.

“That’s his distance range,” he said. “He’s a really tough miler and a horse that gets 2000 metres. He’s not very big, but he’s got a giant stride on him, always been that way, and he’s been impressive (winning) a couple of times. I think he’s a pretty underrated horse, I really do.”

Moroney said On the Rocks would probably race in Australia at some stage.

“He’s done a great job. He had bone chips going into the Derby, and we then took them out after it. He was free as a bird going into the Derby, but the firm ground found him out at a mile and a half. We stopped and took the bone chips out and the horse has done a great job to come back and do what he’s done.

“They’re a great bunch of owners, I suppose everyone is when they’re winning, but they’re certainly enjoying it and I know they’ll be having a few parties around New Zealand.

“Pam and I own a share in him too and we discussed the possibility of gelding him after the (bone chip) operation, but Pam talked me round to leave him as a colt. We were going to take him to Australia, and run him at Caulfield, but we decided to run here instead.

“It great to have him for New Zealand racing, as he’s a very underrated horse and he’s now won three stakes races here at what I call Headquarters (Ellerslie).

“Jake put in a lot of effort to make the weight and I’m sure he wouldn’t have done if he didn’t think the horse could win. He was spot on and he gave him a really good ride.

“All our staff love horses and Pam has really got the stable flying at the right time of the year, and she’s doing a great job.”

The victory continued a good Christmas Carnival for Ballymore Stables, and followed the win by Pinmedown, also ridden by Bayliss, on Boxing Day in the Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (Gr. 2, 1600m).

On the Rocks was strapped by Richie Fallon.

[01 Jan 19]

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