El Roca all out for a start this weekend

Cambridge trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young are so determined to get a start with El Roca this weekend they have accepted with him at two venues.

The smart three-year-old was a sensational withdrawal from the Gr. 2 Hobartville Stakes last Saturday when Stewards exercised their discretion after they found the colt had been given an electrolyte solution the day before the race.

Australian Rule 178AA (1)(b) in New South Wales says a horse cannot be treated with such a product at any time during the one clear day prior to 12.01am on the day of the scheduled race. However, Victoria still operates on a local rule which allows for 24 hours before a race, a practice defended by Victorian chief steward Terry Bailey.

El Roca’s withdrawal has fuelled disagreement between NSW and Victorian stewards over the interpretation of the rule with Busuttin and his vet Dr David Garth unwittingly at the centre of the storm.

“It was at the Steward’s discretion to scratch him and I thought it was a very harsh call not to let him start,” said Busuttin. “I asked for a penalty at the higher end and not to penalise the owners. The vet and I both copped $2000 fines and we still had the horse scratched.

“The bloods came back 100 per cent clear and the whole thing is unfortunate. It was a genuine mistake and we’ve just got to move on. We broke the rules without realising it.”

Busuttin has accepted with El Roca for the Gr. 3 A$150,000 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Warwick Farm tomorrow and also the Listed A$120,000 Canberrra Guineas (1400m) in Canberra on Sunday.

The Canberra feature, in which El Roca has drawn barrier nine, looks the easier option compared to the Warwick Farm feature in which he will have to tackle older, hardened Group performers.

The drawback of the Canberra Guineas is the fact it requires a three-hour float trip either way and for that reason Busuttin is leaning towards the tougher assignment.

“At this stage he’ll run at Warwick Farm because of the less travel but I’ll be leaving the final decision until Saturday. It’s going to be wet here at Warwick Farm and I’ll just see how wet before I decide.

“Missing last Saturday’s race has put us in an awkward position and he needs to run this weekend. And I’ve got no fears about the seven-day back-up to next weekend. He’ll handle it.”

Christian Reith will ride El Roca tomorrow as Hugh Bowman, his successful rider in the Eskimo Prince Stakes, had a prior commitment for Ninth Legion, but if Busuttin opts to take the colt to Canberra Bowman will have the mount.