Rock On rocks the tote
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.