Day At The Track

Rockaria is ready

09:23 AM 07 Apr 2017 NZST
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rsz_gary-hall-jnr.jpg
Gary Hall Jnr

There were a few surprised people when champion driver Gary Hall Jr opted to drive Im Rockaria in tomorrow night’s Group 1 WA Derby (2536m).

After all, it was a big call for him to turn his back on the three runners trained by his father Gary Hall Sr, who has trained three of the past four WA Derby winners.

Clint Hall was always going to drive Hall Sr’s recent buzz Kiwi import Runrunjimmydunn, but the feeling was Hall Sr would expect Gary Jr to take the reins on Herrick Roosevelt.

One person not surprised – and just as equally delighted – is Im Rockaria’s trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan.

“We’re thrilled. There’s nobody better than Gaz, especially from a good draw in a big race around Gloucester Park,” he said.

“If Gaz is driving against you, you’re always worried. It’s great to have him on our side.”

Im Rockaria, who returns from a recent minor health scare, is $4 third favourite from barrier one with the Aussie TAB. Runrunjimmydunn (gate six) is a surprisingly short $2.80 favourite.

There has been strong support for Herrick Roosevelt ($16 into $8.50), while last-start Group 2 Western Gateway winner Mitch Maguire – trained by Greg and Skye Bond – is clear second elect at $3.

Brennan said all the signs were Im Rockaria was primed after missing “about four days work” due to an infection under a tooth cavity.

“Basically you couldn’t steer him, but we hit him with strong anti-biotics and it cleared-up quickly,” he said.

“He trialled really in quick time last weekend and I was thrilled with his work on Wednesday.

“I don’t think I’ve had him better.

“I think he’ll have the speed to lead, at worst he’ll be behind Mitch Maguire. Either way, I think he’ll run a huge race.”

Brennan won the WA Derby back in 2012 with Im Victorious, who went on to become a budding Grand Circuit star before a nasty injury sustained in the 2014 Inter Dominion final in Sydney prematurely ended his career.

Hall Sr has won three of the past four WA Derbys with Chicago Bull (last year), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Alta Christiano (2013).

Adam Hamilton

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