An eye-catching late run that carried improving four-year-old Rockspell to victory at Pukekohe on Saturday was just the performance that co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan was looking for as he eyes a step up in grade for his charge.
The lightly raced son of Per Incanto had indicated he had the talent to win races when finishing third at his first two starts in the summer of the 2020/21 racing season however a severe lung infection saw him off the scene for over ten months before making a return to the track in November last year.
O’Sullivan and training partner Andrew Scott took a patient approach with the David Archer-owned gelding and after breaking his maiden status at Rotorua last month he made it two wins from his last three starts on Saturday.
O’Sullivan and Scott’s former apprentice Taiki Yanagida took the mount and weaved a passage between runners in the home straight to snatch victory right on the line.
“He is quite a promising type who was off the scene for a lengthy spell when he contracted a severe lung infection,” O’Sullivan said.
“David (Archer) gave him plenty of time, where many others might not have persevered, and he is now reaping the rewards from that decision.
“Stu Laing does a lot of form analysis for us and he said that it was a very good field for that class of horse that he beat and the manner in which he did it suggests he will be competitive in the next grade as well.
“Taiki said the track was a little puggy and quite tricky, but he got through it which augurs well for the winter ahead.”
Rockspell has now won two of his ten starts after being purchased by Archer for $70,000 out of the Little Avondale Stud Book 2 sale draft at Karaka in 2019.
O’Sullivan was keen to see Archer achieve a trans-Tasman double on the day with Dark Destroyer sent out favourite in the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm but an interrupted passage early in the home straight saw him have to settle for fourth, just over a length behind fellow Kiwi raider Pinarello.
“We drew barrier one with Dark Destroyer and sometimes that is ideal and on other days it turns out to be a hindrance which is what happened on Saturday,” he said.
“You tend to see in those staying races it is the horses that can get going from the half mile that are hard to beat when you are stopping and starting, trying to find clear air on the inside.
“Sam Weatherley (jockey) just had no options and had he managed to find a gap and get rolling I think he would have finished a lot closer.
“At the end of the day though the horse has run a super race and certainly not lost any admirers for his performance.
“The plan now is for him to travel home for a spell back here in New Zealand.
“He is going out on a good note and I think we have reason to be excited about his prospects in the spring.”
- Article by NZ Racing Desk