El Roca and Sangster on a path to Sydney

Smart three-year-old El Roca is back in work at Cambridge, but New Zealand racegoers may get just one opportunity to see him in action on home soil before he returns to Australia.

El Roca created a big impression in the first few months of the current season when unbeaten in two New Zealand races, including the Listed Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes at Ruakaka, before he headed to the Melbourne Spring Carnival. Among the horses he defeated before embarking on the Australian trip were Atlante, winner of the Gr. 1 Sothys NZ 2000 Guineas, Gobi Ranger and All Decked Out.

Though luck deserted him in his two Melbourne starts, El Roca did impress when second to Éclair Big Bang in the Gr. 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude after being taken to the front too soon. Then in his other outing he copped severe interference and rattled home late for fifth to Long John in the Gr. 1 Caulfield Guineas.

Trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young now have their sights set on an autumn campaign in Sydney with El Roca.

“He’s been back in the stable for a week and he’ll either go for the Australian Guineas on March 1 or the Randwick Guineas,” said Busuttin. “It will all depend on how quickly he comes up. He’s done well during his break and we were mindful not to leave him out too long, being a heavy colt.

“If he’s good enough to pick up one of those Guineas we might even look at something like the George Ryder Stakes or the Doncaster for him. Three-year-olds have got a good record in the Doncaster.

“We’ll try and get a 1200 metres somewhere in New Zealand into him before he goes over but all his other racing will be in Sydney.”

Stablemate Sangster, winner of last season’s Gr. 1 Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Cup, is also being aimed at the Sydney Autumn Carnival.

“He’s just coming back into work,” said Busuttin. “He jarred up badly in Melbourne so we left him out a bit longer. The million dollar Sydney Cup looks enticing for him.”

Sangster had two starts in Melbourne before hoof problems resulted in his Caulfield – Melbourne Cups bid being called off. He was an encouraging sixth in the Gr. 2 Feehan Stakes behind subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente but was sore after finishing last in the Gr. 1 Turnbull Stakes.