El Roca on target for Queensland

El Roca, who shaped well for a long-awaited trip to Australia. (Photo: Race Images).

El Roca, who shaped well for a long-awaited trip to Australia with a Te Teko trials win. (Photo: Race Images).


El Roca tuned up for upcoming Group One assignments in Brisbane with a dashing trial win at Te Teko today.

The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained Fastnet Rock entire comfortably won his 1000-metre open catchweight heat in the hands of Michael McNab.

“We’re delighted with him. He won his trial comfortably,” said Busuttin. “He cruised up to the front and Michael said he had a good look around but he did all he had to do. He had a big blow so that will bring him on enormously.”

El Roca, who has been placed at Group One level in Australia in the Randwick Guineas and George Ryder Stakes, hasn’t raced since his ninth in last year’s Gr. 1 Doncaster Mile in Sydney.

He defeated Australian Horse of the Year contender Dissident first-up in that preparation in the Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes and went within a short head of beating him in the Randwick Guineas. Between times he pushed top sprinter Terravista to a long head in the Gr. 3 Liverpool City Stakes.

El Roca spent the spring on the sidelines after straining a suspensory ligament but after a long break and slow build-up on the waterwalker and treadmill, Busuttin and Young have him ready to fire for the Brisbane winter carnival.

El Roca will fly to Brisbane on Sunday and contest Saturday week’s Gr. 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben, with Hugh Bowman booked for the ride.

“He’s had 13 months off the scene and he’ll be coming straight up against crack Australian sprinters, so while we know he won’t be disgraced, he realistically won’t be a winning chance,” said Busuttin.

“But from there he’ll go to the Doomben 10,000 and they’ll know he’s there for that one.”

The Gr. 1 A$750,000 Doomben 10,000 is run a fortnight later and a bold showing would seal El Roca a start in the Gr. 1 A$2 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).

—Supplied by  NZ Racing Desk