Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard will have a trio of black-type contenders in action at Trentham this Saturday with the stable praying for a change in fortune for at least two of them.
Roch ‘N’ Horse and On The Rocks were devoid of luck in their most recent engagements at Ellerslie, while the third member of the team is Sassy Merlot, who by contrast did herself no favours last time out at northern headquarters.
Bred by Little Avondale Stud, who remain in the ownership group, Roch ‘N’ Horse will take her place in the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) after finishing seventh when resuming in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) on New Year’s Day.
The daughter of Per Incanto, who had impressed when a close second in a lead-up trial, bounced quickly from the inside gate to sit in the trail to the turn and was unable to get into clear air in the closing 400m.
“She didn’t really have a run and she’s done well since. She probably could have done with a slightly harder run if anything,” Gerard said.
The versatile Roch ‘N’ Horse has won three of her 11 starts, including a Listed success at Hastings and is a multiple black-type placegetter.
“She is honest and tries her heart out and just gets out there and gets the job done,” said Gerard, who has booked Lisa Allpress for the ride.
On The Rocks has yet to recapture the form that won him the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) in 2019, although he did run third in the Te Rapa feature last year.
The grey son of Alamosa last raced when unplaced in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) after he was tightened for room in the closing 150m.
“On The Rocks will run in the Trentham Stakes (Gr.3, 2100m) and he was good in the Zabeel - he was also a bit unlucky,” Gerard said. “Dropping back to set weights and penalties should be ideal for him.”
Burgundy filly Sassy Merlot beat the older horses at Te Rapa two runs back before she hung through the running when out of the money in the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m) on Boxing Day.
That performance prompted a change of plan away from Ellerslie and she will tackle the Gr.2 Life Direct Wellington Guineas (1400m) in preference to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
“Sassy Merlot will run in the Guineas. She did a few things wrong going right-handed so we elected to miss the Million and head down to Wellington,” Gerard said.
In other stable news, Group Two winner and multiple Group One placegetter Harlech will be freshened for a tilt at the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 29. He endured a torrid wide run when a last-start 11th in the Zabeel Classic.
Three-time Group Two winner Sound, also three times Group One-placed, will make his next appearance in the Herbie Dyke at Te Rapa on February 12. He was seventh in the Zabeel after an interrupted run in the final 250m.
The immediate future of the very much in-form Contributer mare Tevere, bred and raced by Curraghmore’s Gordon Cunningham, has yet to be confirmed. She has won four of her seven starts, including the last two on the bounce.
“We’ve had a high opinion of her from the word go, but she has been a work in progress. She’s always had a lot of ability, but mentally had to work it out,” Gerard said.
“We’ve got a few ideas on her and I have to run through those with Gordon first. We’ll keep her sprinting at the moment.
“We could go to the Million evening for the Concorde (Gr.3, 1200m), which is quite a quick back-up for her. She hasn’t done that in the past, but she did come through that race well the other day.
“If there’s ever a time to back-up it could be that or we may just sit and wait.”