Day At The Track

Rocker Band climbs the ladder

08:00 AM 21 May 2016 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Rocker Band.JPG Field Marshal.jpg
Rocker Band a chance in tonight's feature
Field Marshal and Dexter Dunn

With the big names falling out of contention for 4-year-old Diamond, Harness racing trainer ​Mark Jones believes Rocker Band is now a winning chance at the Harness Jewels - but there is a downside.

The withdrawals of last year's three-year-old Diamond winner The Orange Agent (injured), Fight For Glory (retired), Start Dreaming (injured) and then Australian invite Arms Of An Angel (virus), there is no dominant favourite.

Now the most open of the nine divisions, Jones knows there is probably eight or nine other trainers sharing his confidence. 

Better B Amazed ($3.60), Expressive Victor ($4.20), Democrat Party ($4.60) and On The Town are the main pre-barrier draw hopes with Rocker Band at $9.50.

Jones believes the draws with be crucial.

"The second line wouldn't be too bad but we wouldn't want to draw wide as you need to be handy at Cambridge.

"With her (Arms Of An Angel) coming out it's probably opened it up for eight or nine horses so it could be very even," Jones said.

Sunday's Oamaru meeting is the last chance for potential Jewels runners to increase their season's stake money to qualify into the fields.

The race has become much more of a priority to Jones and Rocker Band's owner Greg Brodie because of the defections of so many leading chances.

Rocker Band, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, has been progressing nicely since her last-start 12th in the Group I Breeders Stakes on April 1, when she raced keenly for a good chunk of the 2600m trip.

"Her record over a mile is pretty good and she's a speed horse," Jones said.

Rocker Band's recent Rangiora Workout win

Meanwhile, Tim Butt is a relieved man following duel Group I winner Field Marshal's recovery from a minor bout of colic on Tuesday.

The Taylor Mile and Messenger winner was brilliant in his Auckland campaign and is a $1.55 favourite for the 4-year-old Emerald at the Jewels.

Butt said you can never take anything for granted in the racing game and colic was an occupational hazard with horses but he was confident the minor setback was now behind the winner of eight of his last 10 races and 14 from 25 overall.

"He'll just take it quietly for a couple of days but we kept the work into him after Auckland so that will help him," Butt said.

Missing the Jewels would have been tough for Butt and owners Syd and Shona Brown, who bred the Art Major entire out of their outstanding race mare Foreal, because he missed much of his three-year-old season following a wind operation.

Pre-barrier draw, Field Marshal looks the horse to beat but newcomer to the All Stars barn, Titan Banner, has been backed into $3.40.    

"On form he looks like the best horse in the race but you still need a bit of luck in those big races."

The All Stars stable looks to have both Group I features at Addington on Saturday in the bag with favourites in the New Zealand Oaks and 2-year-old Sires Stakes for colts and geldings.

The All Stars barn of Mark Purdon​ and Natalie Rasmussen also looks likely to pick up a win across the Tasman to round out the day when High Gait, who will be driven by Darren Hancock, contests the Group II New South Wales Trotting Oaks.

Christen Me should have enough class to win the Winter Cup (3200m) off 30m but front-markers New Years Jay and Titan Banner (off 10m) will make him work.

Mat Kermeen

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: