Race 1 – Grunt standing @ Yulong Handicap 2406m
Rock On acquitted himself very well running second to Alfarris at his Australian debut on Saturday.
He’s a gelding I had seen previously in New Zealand and he always showed potential staying ability as he made his way through the grades. He claimed the New Zealand St Ledger over 2500m a little over two years ago and since then placed in the 2017 Chairman’s Handicap at Randwick behind Big Duke.
Now six years of age, he is a mature racehorse. He always had a big frame and he has filled out nicely. What was evident in the yard on Saturday is that he has settled into his new environment well, he had a good look around but remained nice and relaxed as he paraded.
He had a long lay-off before returning to the racetrack in December last year, since then he has had a steady build-up with his races well-spaced. His appearance suggests he is handling his racing well and given he was a month between runs on Saturday he is open for a little bit of improvement.
As a six-year-old he is ineligible to run in the Andrew Ramsden, the likely path for race winner Alfarris, but he is certainly worth following over the next few months with plenty of options available to the open class galloper particularly with a little bit of ease in the track.
WATCH: Rock Hard ran second at Caulfield yesterday
Race 2 – Ladbrokes Back Yourself Handicap BM 78 1100m
This gelding has made terrific inroads physically since I saw him last campaign. He was a lightly-framed galloper with scope to improve, and improve he has.
I was impressed by how much he has strengthened and filled out in the mounting yard on Saturday. He was well-conditioned for a first-up run but did display a few signs of freshness in the yard, indicating he would improve from the outing.
When looking for signs of horses who have improvement to come there are a number of indicators I watch out for including presenting with good rib cover and lack of muscle definition which suggests they are carrying a little bit of excess weight or in Sirius Suspects’ case a horse that is highly alert, on its toes and breaking out into a sweat when it is not their typical pre-race behaviour.
He wore pre-race ear muffs for the first time and was kept to himself in the middle of the mounting yard, rather than walking in saddlecloth order with the rest of the field. By the time he jumped, he had a good sweat behind the barriers.
Trainer Saab Hasan commented after the race that over the 1100m, which was run along at a good pace, he was run off his feet in the early stages.
In my opinion, he will improve a great deal out of the run. Although 1200m might be his preferred distance, he will head to Flemington in two-weeks-time to compete in a BM78 1100m contest. Sirius Suspect is a winner both 2nd and 3rd up so worth following into his next couple of runs.
WATCH: Sirius Suspect ran sixth behind William Thomas
Race 8 – Spicer Thoroughbred Handicap 1200m
Leonardo Da Hinchi
This three-year-old colt was one of the more exciting prospects on the card at Caulfield on Saturday. He was the winner of the Group 2 Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley last campaign and is a colt that always looked like he would benefit with a little bit of time to mature.
He has improved in front of the saddle, as you would expect being a colt, and he has thickened up through the neck and shoulders.
Despite finishing fourth on Saturday, I thought he was a standout in the mounting yard. He had jumped-out well leading in his first-up assignment and was conditioned beautifully for the 1200m event. He showed no signs of freshness in the mounting yard and was professional and straightforward in his parade.
My only question mark was whether he would be sharp enough over the 1200m given he had never won at the trip and certainly on type looks like a horse suited at 1400m to a mile, but his jumpouts had indicated he had would acquit himself well.
He jumped cleanly from the barrier and was allowed to stride out on a loose rein, with Jungle Edge on his inside. He raced a touch fresh outside Jungle Edge and didn’t really get a breather in the run which consequently that told over the concluding stages.
In all three of his wins he has sat just off the leaders, either in the trail or one out. His campaign now heads to Queensland where the original plan is to line up in the Group 3 Fred Best over 1400m on the 25th of May, restricted to three-year-olds before progressing onto the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap on the 8th of June (1400m).
Against his own age group and up to 1400m in the Fred Best with a good second up profile and the freshness edge out of him he is worth considering next start.
WATCH: Leonardo Da Hinchi ran fourth to Order Of Command