El Roca shakes off back complaint

El Roca has recovered from a slight setback since his close second to Dissident in last Saturday’s Royal Randwick Guineas and is back on track for two further Group One assigments.

The Cambridge colt went down a short head in an exciting finish to the 1600-metre event, but was sore after the race.

“He has some soreness in his hindquarters and that probably attributed to him lying in the last bit of the race,” said co-trainer Trent Busuttin. “You could see him duck in under pressure and (Hugh) Bowman said the 1600 wasn’t a factor and backing up wasn’t a factor either. He just felt he didn’t stretch out like he did when he first rode him.

“This back soreness explains it all. He’s been treated and he had a saddle on his back for the first time this morning and Aaron (Kuru) rode him and said he felt fine. The horse is back on track for the George Ryder Stakes.”

El Roca won fresh-up in the Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes on February 15, defeating Dissident, and was then beaten by the smart sprinter Terravista over 1300 metres in the Gr. 3 Liverpool City Cup, an effort which boosted confidence going into last Saturday’s Royal Randwick Guineas.

“It was obviously disappointing losing the race but it was a top run,” said Busuttin. “Group Ones are what we’re after and we’ve still got the George Ryder and Doncaster ahead. Hopefully he can win one of them.”

The Gr, 1 A$1 million George Ryder Stakes (1500m) is at Rosehill on Saturday week and the Gr. 1 A$3 million The Star Doncaster Mile is a fortnight later at Randwick.

“Bowman can ride him in the George Ryder but we will have to find another rider for the Doncaster if he doesn’t go up in weight,” said Busuttin. “He’s got 50 kilos at this stage but if he wins the George Ryder he could go up a bit.”

Busuttin made a fleeting trip back to New Zealand this week, leaving El Roca and stablemate High Tec in the care of Kuru, a stable employee for more than 12 months. “I’m heading back on Saturday morning and going straight to Rosehill to watch High Tec,” said Busuttin.

High Tec joined the Busuttin – Natalie Young stable after winning at Otaki last month for his Levin trainer Martin O’Malley and made a winning debut from his new quarters when scoring over 1600 metres at Wyong on March 6.

High Tec’s mission on Saturday is the Gr. 2 A$175,000 Cellarbrations Phar Lap Stakes (1500m), in which he will be ridden by Bowman, who was aboard in the Wyong win.

“It’s a tough field on Saturday and it’s going to be hard for him,” said Busuttin. “He’s going to be better when he gets over more ground. He’ll back up in either the Rosehill Guineas or the Tulloch Stakes then go on to the Australian Derby.”