Local trainers take out Awapuni features

4 min read

Written by Robert Edwards

Rock On (Road To Rock) defied the odds and upset his much higher rated stayers to take out the Group 3 Hotel Coachman Manawatu Cup.

The result was a blow out for punters with Rock On ($33) beating the long-shots Balham ($32.30, Don Eduardo) and Overtheriver ($43.80, Mettre en Jeu) in a thrilling climax to the $100,000 Cup.

The bubble burst for red hot $2.20 Glory Days (Red Giant), who was chasing a Cup hat-trick and her fifth straight win, finishing 13th in the field of 14.

Trainer Gary Vile had rated 2016 Manawatu Cup winner Jacksstar (Zed) as the best chance of his two runners, but was confident Rock On was on the rise, with two runs over the distance under his belt.

Jacksstar ($15), who was sidelined for 17 months with a tendon and ligament injury, showed he was on key for his summer assignments in the Group 3 Wellington and Group 1 Auckland cups, with a solid fifth - beaten 2.7 lengths.

Vile was delighted with Rock On’s revival, after five unplaced runs, to claim the biggest scalp of his career in the 2200m Awapuni feature.

He was rocked 11 months ago when Rock On broke down with a tendon injury in a training gallop.

Vile immediately paid tribute to his partner Vivienne Kaye for her therapeutic work to put Rock On back on the right track, after suffering injury.

“God there has been some work go into this horse." - Trainer, Gary Vile

“God there has been some work go into this horse,” Vile said.

Trainer Gary Vile (right)

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

“Vivienne’s done all of the hard work so it’s a big thrill."

Rock On, whose previous win for Vile was in a 2300m handicap at Otaki on December 1, 2017, had ran third in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2800m) and fourth in a 2500m handicap at Flemington, during a trip to Australia last season. He was prepared in Australia by John Sargent.

Vile prepared Rock On to an impressive win in the 2017 Listed New Zealand St Leger (2500m) at Trentham.

The six-year-old has now won six times and been placed on eight occasions from his 33 starts.

Rock On

Rock On was bred by Wellfield Lodge director Bill Gleeson in partnership with Tanya Goss and is raced by Gleeson, Vile, R Drummond, A C Macdonald and A J Vincent.

He was sold through the 2014 Karaka Select Yearling Sale for $70,000.

Rock On is a son of the Group 3 winning mare St Jessie (Jetball-Be Bob a Lulu).

St Jessie has produced eight foals to race, with five winners. Rock On is the best of his brothers and sisters with the mare’s other winners being Miss Burger (Rock Of Gilbraltar), Zabzeelzebub (Zabeel), Wild Wings (Alamosa) and Jessiegee (Alamosa).

Challenge Stakes

It was another boil-over for punters when $16 chance Shadows Cast (Per Incanto) regained his best form and waltzed home by two lengths in the Kamada Park Manawatu Challenge Stakes.

Shadows Cast pulled away from the leader Countessa Vanessa ($6.60, Bullbars) inside the last 100m, running home a comfortable winner in the Group 2 weight-for-age 1400m feature.

The $4.60 chance Dolcetto (Incanto) fought on well down the home stretch to deny Wyndspelle ((Iffraaj) the minor end of the trifecta - finishing 2.8 lengths from the winner.

There was a sensation before the start, when the $3.70 favourite Ocean Emperor (Zabeel) was scratched at the barriers on veterinary advice.

Trainer Mark Oulaghan revealed there were excuses behind Shadows Cast capitulating last of 11 in the Group 2 Couplands Bakery Mile, at Riccarton, at his prior start on November 14.

"We may look at the Thornton Mile next start.” - Trainer, Mark Oulaghan

Shadows Cast had dead-heated with Son Of Maher in the Couplands Bakery Mile last year. The master jumps trainer preferred to look to the future than dwell on the past.

“He had a bit of a setback (Riccarton), but he got over it okay,” Oulaghan said. “The 1400m is his pet distance, though at a pinch he can get a mile, but I do think 1400m is his go.

Shadows Cast winning the Manuwatu Challenge S.

“In saying that we may look at the Thornton Mile next start.”

The Group 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile is one of the feature races run at Trentham on January 19.

The powerful chestnut is owned by R N Cunningham.

Shadows Cast’s dam Ages Past (Slavic-Picnic In The Park), at 17 years old, has not enjoyed much luck at stud, producing only three foals to race for two winners.

Shadows Cast is the stand out of his dam’s progeny, with nine wins to his credit. The other winner from the family is Twilight Doll (St Reims).

The two feature winners were prepared by local trainers.