Day At The Track

Band set to rock on

03:49 PM 29 Jun 2016 NZST
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Rocker Band.JPG
Rocker Band a chance in tonight's feature

Harness Racing Jewels winning mare Rocker Band will get her chance to compete against the best of the best.

The daughter of New Zealand Trotting Cup winning mare, Mainland Banner, was earmarked for retirement following her emphatic 4YO Diamond victory at last month’s Harness Jewels, but discussions between her trainer Mark Jones and owner

Greg Brodie have led them down a different path all together.

The fledgling mare will become a mother still with an embryo to be taken from her and partnered with champion stallion Bettor’s Delight before being placed in a surrogate mare.

“Greg and I had a pretty big chat about her future and it’s his wish to continue racing her,” Jones said.

“But by taking an embryo from her we get to safeguard anything that might happen in the future.”

On the racing front the trainer/owner combination have settled on the Queen Of Hearts as the first major assignment for her five-year-old campaign.

“We will give her a few starts here and see where we are at before making any other decisions.

“Australia is an option for us if it proves to be too hard for her here.

“She’s a C8 mare, and even with a new handicapping system she would still have to race the Cup horses.

“I probably don’t give her enough credit, she’s capable of doing it but it will be a big ask.”

There are plenty of other mares around New Zealand in a similar boat - particularly those Rocker Band beat in the Diamond like; Expressive Victor, Democrat Party and Better B Amazed.

While the open class mares’ ranks weren’t overly strong this season they are expected to return to a high standard with the Dream About Me, Golden Goddess and Piccadilly Princess joining the ranks along with the return of The Orange Agent.

“It’s going to be tough, but it’s better to die wondering than not try at all.

“So we will give her a chance and see what happens. With the racing calendar we’ve got she could chop and change between here and Australia.”

While the news that his outstanding mare would be returning to his stable and not to the broodmare paddock was welcomed by Jones, it hasn’t all been warm and fuzzy this week.

Open class pacer Saveapatrol is back in the hospital ward for another three to six months after cracking another pastern.

The big pacer who down Terror To Love to win an Invercargill Cup has been plagued with injuries throughout his career and the latest blow was nearly the last straw.

Jones and owner Grant Hatton discussed the option of calling time on the gelding’s career but have instead opted to have a screw inserted into the pastern to see if that holds together.

“It’s pretty disappointing, especially for Grant who has been so patient.

“He’s out for at least three months.”

With 52 wins on the board and the promise of a few more before the season is done, Jones is reflecting on another good 12 months at the coal face.

“We managed to win two Group Ones which is fantastic but we have also well and truly exceeded expectations.

“When I sat down at the start of the season I thought 20 was a good figure so to be close to triple that is something I’m proud of.”

The Burnham and Woodend Beach horseman said the stable was in a real transitional phase at the moment with a large number of younger horses on the books with some of the racing team sold on to other interests.

Matt Markham

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