One more time for Rock Magic

7 min read

Written by Bren O'Brien

Equine marvel Rock Magic (Redoute's Choice) will create further history when he contests Saturday's G1 Winterbottom S. as a 12-year-old, in what will be an emotional racetrack farewell for trainers Chris and Michael Gangemi and his connections.

There haven't been too many, if any, 12-year-olds contest a Group 1 race in Australia, and it is also doubtful that the same horse has contested the same Group 1 race seven years apart.

It was in 2014 that Rock Magic made his first appearance in the Winterbottom S. then as a 5-year-old having his seventh start for Chris Gangemi, having previously been campaigned by Paul Messara, with whom he had won four of his 11 starts.

Rock Magic as a yearling | Image courtesy of Inglis

Out of Group 1-winning mare Rockabubble (Bubble Gun Fellow {Jpn}), he was bred by Arrowfield, and was passed in short of his $200,000 reserve when offered through the 2011 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

To give some context as to how long ago that was, another graduate of that Sale was All Too Hard, who is about to complete his ninth season at Vinery Stud.

Rock Magic showed plenty of early promise for Messara, winning his first three starts, but as a 4-year-old he found his way to Gangemi's Ascot stables in mid-2014. He wasted no time making a strong impression, winning four of his first five starts for his new trainer.

Gangemi freshened him up and headed to the G1 Winterbottom S., where he ran eighth, beaten 5l by Magnifisio (Magnus). Again, giving that some context, that race was held around seven weeks after Winx's (Street Cry {Ire}) defeat in the G1 Flight S. and around six months before she began her legendary 33-race winning streak.

Chris Gangemi | Image courtesy of Gangemi Racing

There is, of course, no comparison between the superstar mare and the evergreen Western Australian sprinter and the closest they ever got to being on the same racetrack was in 2017, when he contested the G1 Manikato S. 18 hours before she came out and won the third of her four G1 Cox Plates.

While he was always competitive when travelling back across the Nullarbor, Rock Magic has always saved his best for Belmont and Ascot, winning nine stakes races, including the G3 Roma Cup on two occasions.

The end of the line

Saturday will represent his 16th Group 1 start, and his fifth attempt at the Winterbottom, having run third on three occasions, 2016, 2019 and 2020.

It will also be his final racetrack start, with Chris and his brother Michael deciding to call time, despite Rock Magic showing age has not wearied him.

"It’s going to be pretty sad on Saturday. He's been around a long time and has been a very good horse for a very long time," Chris Gangemi told TDN AusNZ. "It’s going to be sad to see him have that last start and know he won't be there again.

"It’s going to be pretty sad on Saturday. He's (Rock Magic) been around a long time and has been a very good horse for a very long time." - Chris Gangemi

"We got him as a 4-year-old and he has been an absolute champion. Not just for our stable but in general as well. He's won $1.7 million and nine stakes races and has been placed in three Winterbottoms.

"To still be racing at that age 10, 11 and 12 and be at that level is the most ridiculous thing. He's one of a kind."

In rare air

History would agree with Gangemi in that regard.

There have been horses who have been evergreen marvels, the likes of John McNair's grand campaigner Mustard (Vettori {Ire}), who won a metropolitan race at 13 in 2010, as well as North Queensland legend Passion Moon and 1840s figure Jorrocks (Whisker {GB}), who won races well into their teens, but none have competed in Group 1 races at such an advanced age.

Rock Magic

Indeed, while the bookies have Rock Magic as a $34 shot on Saturday, there is enough in his form to suggest he is a genuine winning chance, having run second in the Listed Crawford S. and fourth, beaten 1.85l by Saturday's race-favourite Elite Street (Street Boss {USA}), in the G3 Prince Of Wales S.

"His first-up run he ran second to the favourite and second-up, they were a bit sharp for him over the 1000 (metres), but he ran through the line as good as anything. From the good gate (seven), he's a good chance. They gave him no chance the last couple of years, and I almost think he can upset them again," Gangemi said.

"From the good gate (seven), he's (Rock Magic) a good chance. They gave him no chance the last couple of years, and I almost think he can upset them again." - Chris Gangemi

Rock Magic is one of those horses who doesn't know he is 12 and shows no signs that he is at the end of a remarkable 62-start career.

"He loves working, and he could probably race on, but we feel like it’s probably time and the right way to go out with the Winterbottom. He's 100 per cent sound and he still loves it," he said.

"One of our ladies that works for us will take him home and he's got a lovely paddock to retire into."

A triple threat

Rock Magic won't be the only representative for the Gangemis in the Winterbottom, with Money Matters (Canford Cliffs {Ire}) and Long Beach (I Am Invincible) to also carry the stable's white, red and green colours in the race.

Gallery: The Gangemis' other runners in the Winterbottom S.

Long Beach is a progressive 5-year-old who has won six of his 16 starts, and the expectation of what he might be able to do has been lifted by his last-start third in the G3 Colonel Reeves S.

"His run was huge in the Colonel Reeves. He sat three-deep outside the speed in what was a hot race, and was still there right at the end, running third," Gangemi said,

"We couldn't be happier with him. He's got to step up to weight-for-age, but if he can do that, we are hoping he can figure in the money as well."

"We couldn't be happier with him (Long Beach). He's got to step up to weight-for-age, but if he can do that, we are hoping he can figure in the money as well." - Chris Gangemi

Money Matters was purchased for $150,000 by the Gangemis through the Inglis Digital platform in June and has had just the two starts for the stable, the most recent an eighth in the Colonel Reeves S.

"Money Matters was a bit disappointing the other day, we thought he could win, and his last 100 was a bit disappointing. We are hoping he can improve and be in the finish on Saturday," he said.

The Gangemis are still chasing their first Group 1 victory and last Saturday had Notorious One (Animal Kingdom {USA}) (fourth) and Massimo (Sessions) (seventh) run good races in the G1 Railway S. A major success in their home state is still an ambition which burns brightly.

"We’ve won quite a few stakes races and Group races over the years, but are yet to win a really big one, so that is obviously the aim," Chris said.

"If we can't do it the next couple of weekends, we will still strive to do that over the next few years."

Rock Magic
Chris Gangemi
Michael Gangemi
Winterbottom Stakes
Money Matters
Long Beach