IN Racing
Venue change adds to Ballymore arsenal
Ballymore Stables will double their attack on the Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa on Saturday
NZ Racing Desk | December 07, 2021
On The Rocks will contest the Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes

Ballymore Stables will double their attack on the Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa on Saturday after its transfer from Trentham last weekend.

Harlech was originally the stable’s only entrant, however, with the race now on their backdoor step, the Matamata operation has also elected to line-up On The Rocks.

The seven-year-old gelding has fond memories of the track, winning the 2019 Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) and placing in the same race earlier this year.

While the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) remains his key target at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard are keen to have a throw at the stumps this weekend on his favourite track.

“It’s a nice lead-up for the Zabeel. It’s on our backdoor step, so why not?” Gerard said.

“He has never been a big fan of Wellington. Te Rapa is a track that he likes and he is doing well at the moment.

“He was going to go to the trials, but with them changing the race we have decided to give him a run around Te Rapa.”

Gerard has been pleased with his two runs this time in, including a fourth placing in the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha last start, and is expecting a bold showing this weekend.

“I thought it (run at Te Aroha) was super,” she said.

“The track was really hard that day, which is not to his liking. His fresh-up run at Matamata was huge, he has just come back a different animal.

“Gelding him quite late I think really knocked him and I think it took him a wee while to get over that and become a gelding.

“His two runs this season have been really good.

“It is a big step up in class (on Saturday), but he is a Group One horse and he needs to be running against them.”

While pleased to be lining up On The Rocks, Gerard said the redundant trip south to Trentham over the weekend has taken a slight toll on stablemate Harlech, who was heading into the race in a fresh state.

“It is a big trip, so I would be lying if I said it hadn’t taken a little bit out of him,” Gerard said.

“It is my job to try and get him back to where we were before we went to Wellington.

“I have never been as confident as what I was going down there, I hadn’t had him like that in a long time.

“I don’t think we are too far off the mark, but I can definitely tell that it took that freshness off him, which I thought he really needed for the mile.”

Gerard will also line-up Tevere in the Adashiko Fashion Stakes Sprint (1200m) and Sassy Merlot in the Brokerweb Risk Services 1400.

“I am looking forward to getting Tevere out and about. She was a little bit unlucky last time, she all but had it won,” Gerard said.

“She is a mare that has got a lot of ability. She has freshened up and is jumping out of her skin, ready to get to the races.

“It is a pretty good field by the look of it, so she is going to have to step up again. Hopefully we get a nice draw for once and she gets a nice trip. I don’t think she will be too far off them.

“It was unlucky that we got a wet track the other day with Sassy Merlot, but at least they went around. It is just one of those things, we tried her at Tauranga on a wet track and she didn’t like it at all.

“Te Rapa 65 1400m, jut gives us another option leading up to the mile (Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic) on Boxing Day if we think she is going to be up to it.

“I am not too concerned, but certainly don’t want to see her going around on as wet a track as we got at Matamata.”

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