Day At The Track

Heaven Rocks first start in Australia

06:00 PM 16 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Heaven Rocks,Harness racing
Heaven Rocks
All Stars Stable

It is out of the frying pan into the fire for headstrong pacing star Heaven Rocks this week.

The dual Jewels winner makes his Australian debut in the Ballarat Cup on Saturday night, taking on his Auckland Cup conqueror Vincent and local Victorian hero Lennytheshark.

With a campaign aimed at the Hunter Cup (February 3) and the Miracle Mile (February 24) his connections have decided Heaven Rocks has to be taken off the unruly from mobile starts so he can at least have a shot at being competitive rather than always settling last.

But they probably didn’t expect the huge pacer’s first night back in the draw to result in barrier one in a hot field, which will present its own series of challenges on Saturday night.

Heaven Rocks has only had one mobile start this season and behaved himself when not really asked to take on to the field in the score up in the Flying Mile at Cambridge two weeks ago.

But the inside draw in the push and shove of Australian racing could see him bolt to an early lead or have no idea what to do when the outside pressure comes --- neither would surprise.

Either way Vincent has emerged as the horse to beat in the A$100,000 group one over the 2710m mobile, even from barrier six, with Lennytheshark to start off the second line.

Saturday’s meeting will also play host to three heats of the Victoria Derby, which is run a week earlier this season, with Spankem and The Devil’s Own the Kiwi reps against a strong local three-year-old crop.

Meanwhile, an Australian campaign is off the cards for New Zealand Cup runner-up Jack’s Legend.

The Auckland pacer was initially being aimed at the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney on February 10 and would have needed to contest a qualifying race but trainer Barry Purdon says the four-year-old will be staying home.

“He hasn’t been quite as sharp in his last few starts and with his two huge runs during Cup week maybe he is feeling the effects of a busy start to the season,” says Purdon

“We have plenty of good four-year-old races still to go up here so I will set him for those instead.”

With races like the Taylor Mile, Messenger and Jewels just a month apart in the north this season and the four-year-old ranks containing Vincent, Ultimate Machete, Jack’s Legend and Star Galleria among others, that last-season treble could prove one of the highlights of the pacing year.


Michael Guerin

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