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Group 1 winner On the Rocks (7 g Alamosa – Cold Shoulder, by Volksraad) returned to the winners circle on Saturday at Rotorua, after producing a super win in $35,000 Laser Electrical Open 1400 metres.

Given time (56 days) since Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) on 12 February at Te Rapa, a race he won in 2019 and finished third in 2021, On the Rocks had also won two Group 2 races and a listed win.

With proven fresh-up record over 1400 metres and reduced in weight under four-kilo claiming apprentice Maria Sanson to carry 52kg, similar (52.5kg) to that he carried winning Rich Hill Mile (Gr. 2, 1600m), On the Rocks worked forward from barrier 11 into second, levelled 200m and showed the stretch of old to win stylishly.

On good footing, On the Rocks ran 1400 metres in sharp 1:22.7, last 600m in 34.7, and paid the believers $21.90 & $5.70 on NZ TAB tote.

Owned by Andrew Clark, Noel Gurney, Adrian Mathieson, On the Rocks Syndicate, Richards Sims, David Sinn and Ballymore (NZ), On the Rocks was selected by Paul Moroney and purchased for $40,000, from draft of Wellfield Stud, at 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale.

He descends from the family of Melbourne Cup winner and Champion Australian staying horse Efficient (Zabeel).

Now the winner of seven races and over $540,000 prize money, On the Rocks is a half-brother to stable-mate and recent winner Halston (Reliable Man) – both greys and shared by most in the family including stakes winners Refused To Dance (Defensive Play), Dancing Flojo (Amazing Dancer) and Florida Jig (Jig Time).

“We couldn’t fault him through his previous campaign, but he wasn’t able to compete at top levels under big weights,” said co-trainer Pam Gerard.

“It had been a long while since he had 52-kilos on his back. Winning the Rich Hill Mile and Herbie Dyke Stakes as a four-year-old put him quickly at the top of the weight scale and with the handicapping system the way it is it’s taken a long time for these open handicap horses to drop down to a reasonable rating where they can be competitive again.

“They seem to drop them down a lot quicker in Australia, which enables these good horses to keep racing. It’s taken three years to get him back down to carrying a suitable weight.

“To be fair, though, he had a few ordinary rides through his last campaign. He always works super at the track and we knew that he still wanted to be out there and could run the times, but he is a bit particular about what type of track he runs on and how the race is run.

“He needs to get balanced and he doesn’t sprint, but he can extend, which can make it tricky when planning how to ride him in a race. When he can lengthen and gain an advantage he’s shown that he’s quite hard to peg back.

“He’s been running around in big races and not quite had things go his way, but, as mentioned, there are a few reasons for that.

“Freshened, his work on Tuesday was among the best times that morning at Matamata, and he’s shown to act fresh. Maria (Sanson) put him in the race and it maybe that we keep him at trips up to a mile.

“The plan was to run today and see how he went, and maybe go to the Easter Handicap (Gr. 3, 1600m) on 23 April at Pukekohe.”

On the Rocks was strapped by Scott Magee.
[09 Apr 22]

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