Day At The Track

Heaven Rocks again

10:32 AM 06 Jun 2017 NZST
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Heaven Rocks
HRNZ photo

The real Heaven Rocks has been revealed.

Because it turns out the two-times Jewels winner isn’t actually the intimidating bully  he looked at Ashburton on Saturday, with driver Natalie Rasmussen believing he is really a big pussycat.

Heaven Rocks confirmed his reputation as the most exciting pacer in New Zealand --- not the best, that title still belongs to stablemate Lazarus --- with his crushing win in the $150,000 Four-Year-Old Emerald.

As always he was allowed to lag behind his rivals at the start before working three wide to parked and then dispatching them at the top of the straight, winning by four and a half lengths but it could have easily been eight.

It wouldn’t have been a Heaven Rocks performance without at least one moment of concern, as Rasmussen had to take hold soon after he made his winning move as he attempted to duck in.

But his co-trainer says those now common theatrics from Heaven Rocks are not because he is pig-headed or crazy, in fact the exact opposite.

“He is actually a very timid horse,” explains Rasmussen, who trains Heaven Rocks with partner Mark Purdon.

“As a young horse he broke a pastern bone and I think that is where all this stems from.

“Obviously it hurt him and dented his confidence and while he doesn’t feel any pain from it now it has changed him mentally.

“That is why he is a bit wayward some times. It is not because he has any dirt in him, he is still getting over what happened.”

Heaven Rocks clearly has the motor of a superstar but to take the next step, to that New Zealand Cup/Miracle Mile-type level, his rough edges will need smoothing out and Rasmussen is confident that can be achieved.

“It has been a battle with him getting that confidence back but I think we are winning and giving him a break now when he is feeling good about life will help.

“I think he can be better again next season, but he will need to be to actually win those top races.”

Heaven Rocks shone the brightest of the stars on show on Saturday but stablemate and fellow Rasmussen drive Spanish Armada was almost as dominant, completing one of the great domestic seasons by a three-year-old pacing filly.

Her 25.5 second last 400m is one of the fastest official sectionals recorded in New Zealand and she adds a Jewels to her Sires’ Stakes, Sales Series, Nevele R Final and NZ Oaks, with the Breeders Crown in Melbourne still to come and possibly a Queensland Oaks stopover as a reward.

But while plenty of Jewels winners have gone on to the Breeders Crown in August, that won’t be the case for Dizzy Miss Lizzy, who was brilliant winning the opener on Saturday or juvenile trot winner Paramount King.

“I’d love to be taking her over there but sadly she isn’t eligible,” said Dizzy Miss Lizzy’s trainer Nigel McGrath.

And Paramount King’s co-trainer Josh Dickie knows the lanky trotter needs a break, with only his deft training skills getting him home on Saturday at a stage of the season when he looks ready for the spelling paddock.

Piccadilly Princess also needs a break, winning her four-year-old mares division in steady but hardly spectacular fashion while Ashley Locaz saved the bookies by flashing past red hot favourite stablemate Spankem in the juvenile boys pace in national record time.

Michael Guerin

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