Rock On rocks the tote

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE - NZ RAC­ING DESK

LO­CAL run­ner Rock On re­turned to win­ning form af­ter a long lay-off with a storm­ing upset vic­tory in the $100,000 Manawatu Cup (2200m) at Awa­puni yes­ter­day.

The six-year-old Road To Rock geld­ing went amiss last sea­son, shortly be­fore con­test­ing the Welling­ton Cup (3200m) in Jan­uary.

Nursed back to health by the team at trainer Gary Vile’s Awa­puni sta­ble, Rock On re­sumed last month and had three runs in his cur­rent prep be­fore tack­ling yes­ter­day’s fea­ture.

Rider Rob­bie Han­nam, who had ex­pressed some con­fi­dence be­fore the race, had Rock On ($33) hum­ming along sweetly at the rear of the field be­fore eas­ing his way into con­tention with 1000m to run. Rock On hit top gear in the run home as he launched a pow­er­ful burst to claim even­tual run­ner-up Bal­ham in the shad­ows of the win­ning post.

An emo­tional Vile was quick to pay tribute to part­ner Vivi­enne Kaye for her work in get­ting Rock On back to the track, af­ter his in­jury-en­forced lay-off. ‘‘God, there’s been some work go into this horse,’’ he said.

‘‘He showed so much last year and to break down just be­fore the Welling­ton Cup was heart­break­ing.

‘‘Vivi­enne’s done all the hard work so it’s a big thrill.’’

Han­nam was beam­ing when ques­tioned about how the race had un­folded. RACE IM­AGES PN

‘‘He’s just a quiet achiever. He hasn’t looked that good at his last two starts but they were re­ally en­cour­ag­ing.

‘‘I said to Gary that af­ter his last start hewould def­i­nitely run in the first three.

‘‘I wasn’t sure if he was ready to win, but I was def­i­nite he would run in the first three.

‘‘I put him in a po­si­tion so he could­win the race and he out­stayed them in the end.’’

Suc­cess­ful in the 2017 edi­tion of the New Zealand St Leger (2500m) as a four-year-old, Rock On has now won six of his 33 ca­reer starts and over $214,00 in prize­money.

Rock On and rider Rob­bie Han­nam, left, take out the Manawatu Cup yes­ter­day.

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