Day At The Track

Im Rockaria relishes pacemaking role

05:59 PM 25 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Im Rockaria, harness racing
Im Rockaria
Jodie Hallows Photo

Im Rockaria, on target to contest a rich classic event in the Eastern States in the winter, is a superb frontrunner who should lead his 11 harness racing rivals on a merry dance in the $25,000 International Animal Health Products Im Themightyquinn Final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.

“Win, lose or draw, he will go for a spell after this week’s race,” said trainer Michael Brennan. “And then he will come back later to be prepared for either the Vicbred Super Sires Series for four-year-olds at Melton or the New South Wales Breeders Challenge at Menangle. These races will be run either late in June or early in July and Im Rockaria is eligible for both.”

Im Rockaria is an outstanding frontrunner who is sure to prove hard to beat after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. He has started from the number one barrier six times in his 31-start career for five all-the-way wins. His only defeat from No. 1 was when he set the pace and finished fourth behind Handsandwheels in the 2536m WA Derby in April 2017. He has also won five other times after dashing to the front in the first circuit or in the middle stages.

“It will be a case of leading at all costs,” said a confident Grantham. “He’s got the speed to hold up and we’ll be aiming to take full advantage of the barrier and his gate speed. Maczaffair will have to be at her best to sit outside Im Rockaria and beat him.”

Im Rockaria started out wide from barrier seven when he raced in the breeze outside the pacemaking Maczaffair before wilting to fourth behind that brilliant mare in a qualifying heat three Fridays ago. Im Rockaria then contested a standing-start event over 2503m at Gloucester Park a week later and he sustained a spirited three-wide burst (with cover) from the 1100m mark to hit the front 250m from home and win from Idealindiamonds.

Brennan said that he had started Im Rockaria in a stand to add another string to the Rocknroll Hanover gelding’s bow and to take the succession of wide draws in mobiles out of the equation.

Maczaffair and Im Rockaria, at four years of age, are the youngest runners in the field of 12 and look set to dominate the event. Maczaffair, trained by Mike Reed, has won at 16 of her 34 starts and has not been extended in winning easily at her past three starts.

Maczaffair will again be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, fresh from driving four winners at Northam on Tuesday night and a clear leader in the State drivers’ premiership. The New Zealand-bred mare is a speedy beginner and excellent frontrunner. However, she also is a stout-hearted performer who can never be underestimated.

At her latest appearance, Maczaffair revealed dazzling early speed when she was fastest to begin from the outside barrier (No. 9) last Friday week. She raced five wide in the early stages, but was unable to cross to the lead. She then gained an ideal trail, one-out and one-back, before starting a three-wide move at the bell on her way to winning by more than five lengths from Ayana at a 1.58.3 rate over 2536m.

Livura and Bronze Seeker look the best of the opposition and should fight out the finish for third place. Livura is a model of consistency for trainer-reinsman Nathan Turvey and he was most unlucky at his latest appearance when he was hopelessly blocked for a run in the home straight when fifth behind Abraxas Blues last Friday week.

Bronze Seeker, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Byford trainer Peter Anderson, has finished solidly when placed at two of his past three starts and he should enjoy a perfect passage behind the likely pacemaker Im Rockaria after drawing the inside of the back line.

Ken Casellas

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