Day At The Track

Arden Rooney needs to improve

06:22 PM 30 Sep 2015 NZDT
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Arden Rooney
Arden Rooney

Last summer’s champion Arden Rooney needs to improve Friday night in the My Lightning Blue Free for All at Melton for harness racing  trainer Kerryn Manning to be confident he’d be a good show at cups time in New Zealand.

The Hunter Cup winner has not flattered at either run to date this time in, finishing eighth beaten 17.6 metres in the Gammalite first-up over 2760m (off a 40m handicap) and sixth of seven in the Preux Chevalier Free for All over 2240m, beaten 24.5m by Franco Ledger after sitting in the breeze.

But 2014 Gordon Rothacker medallist Manning changed Arden Rooney’s training regime following his most recent run.

“I put the hopples on him at home because I thought I had to try something,” she said.

“His work’s been really good. The horse looks super.

“I probably had him 85 per cent before the first-up run, but he had an impossible task from the handicap and the times they ran that night.

“Second-up I thought he was more like 95 per cent but he just got tired. He’d had enough by the home bend.”

Arden Rooney will start from barrier seven on Friday night over 1720m, a distance range he’s never won at.

He’ll face opposition such as Philadelphia Man (1-52.6 best mile rate overall and 1-53.4 best mile rate over trip at Melton) and Franco Ledger (1-53.7 best rate over 1720m).

Philadelphia Man is the lone runner off the second row on Friday night, while Franco Ledger will come out of gate six.

The battle for early supremacy over the short course looks intriguing with Arber (one), Exciteusinthecity (three) and Major Crocker (four) all likely to be handy and potentially wanting to hold the front if they can find the markers first.

So what does Manning hope to do aboard Arden Rooney from her draw out in the cheap seats?

“I think most of that front line would let him go if we put enough pressure on,” she said.

“He came out pretty good last time.”

Arden Rooney won last year's Kakoura Cup and is likely to cross the Tasman in coming weeks to defend the crown before heading to the NZ Trotting Cup in November.

by Cody Winnell

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