One of the fastest pacers in history is heading to New Zealand and he could double in value before he gets here.
Soon-to-be-reunited father and son training team Graham and Paul Court have all but sewn up the syndication of US flyer Johny Rock, who will arrive in New Zealand next month to be set for the major open class and four-year-old races next year.
While the Courts announced their purchase a few weeks ago, there might be a few potential owners who feel they have missed the boat after weekend developments.
Johny Rock was already rated one of the best three-year-old pacers in North America but stepped up a notch when he paced a staggering 1:48 mile beating older horses at Pocono on Saturday night.
He time was just 0.2 of a second outside the world record for a 1000m track and confirms Johny Rock is on target for his last major North American assignment, the Little Brown Jug on September 19.
The colt’s new personal best wasn’t the only good news for Johny Rock’s new owners over the weekend, with early Jug favourite Captaintreacherous withdrawn from the race last night.
If Johny Rock can win the US$550,000 Jug his value will skyrocket just the day before he enters quarantine to come to New Zealand.
“It is pretty exciting,” says Paul Court, who is living in Canada but returns home to train with his father again late next month.
“It is always a risk paying the sort of money we did for this horse but he is already proving it was the right move and if he wins the Jug, that would be a dream result for everybody involved.”
“We only have a couple of shares in him left to sell but I am picking they will disappear pretty quick after this.”
Johny Rock will arrive in New Zealand mid October and will join the Court stable in November, around the time new stablemate Terror To Love chases this third New Zealand Cup win.
“But we won’t be rushing him. He becomes a four-year-old the day he arrives in New Zealand but when you are talking about a 1:48 pacer that little age disadvantage won’t matter,” said Court.
If Johny Rock wins the Jug he will join another former Jug winner to race in Australasia in Mr Feelgood, the most successful ever North American import to this part of the world.
Meanwhile, Terror To Love has moved into $3.60 favouritism for the New Zealand Cup on November 12, heading off Christen Me at $3.80.
Both are set to resume racing at Addington on September 27 and their tightening has seen three-time Interdominion champion I’m Themightyquinn drift out to $5.50 with the TAB.
Bitobliss, who set tongues wagging with a brilliant win at Melton last Friday, shortened to $10 but is still almost certain to miss the Cup.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)