Fast ‘N’ Rocking proves superior in McNeil clash

| August 31, 2013
Fast 'N' Rocking captures the McNeil Stakes

Fast ‘N’ Rocking captures the McNeil Stakes

Fast ‘N’ Rocking proved the superior colt in an action-packed $150 000, Group 3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.

Last season’s Blue Diamond heroine Miracles Of Life (Lauren Stojakovic) was sent to post the market elect, but giving weight to a handful of quality colts proved too much for the speedy filly first time out.

She pinged away and raced keenly outside of race leader Divine Calling, taking over at the bend and briefly looked set to take some catching, but Fast ‘N’ Rocking under Brett Prebble was looming large and had her measure as they came inside the final 200m.

He rolled in on the smaller filly, cramping her right up over the final stages, and also leaving the highly promising Prince Harada with limited room in a messy finish to the race.

Prince Harada and Steven Arnold had to weave between runners from back in the field to ultimately take an eye-catching second, while Thermal Current under Luke Nolen worked home pleasingly to take third, with Miracle of Life in fourth. Fast ‘N’ Rocking won by 2L in a time of 1.10.80 on the Dead 4 track with Thermal Current 0.1L back in third.

Fast ‘N’ Rocking was too good on the day, though, his win stamping him as a genuine contender for the big spring prizes ahead, with both the Golden Rose and the Caulfield Guineas being mentioned as targets.

“He’s a really exciting colt,” said trainer David Hayes.

“It was a bit rough and ready late, there might be a couple of hard luck stories, but as far as I’m concerned he’ll be pretty hard to beat in anything he runs in from now on.

“He’s definitely heading for the Guineas. He might go to the Golden Rose if he does well, it’s a real stallion race now and he’d be one of the favourites, so that is something to think about in the next couple of days.”

Fast ‘N’ Rocking was following in the footsteps of his sire, Fastnet Rock, who despite being high class at two had to wait until his second start at three to break through. Fastnet Rock went on to become a high class galloper and a leading sire, and connections will no doubt be hoping that Fast ‘N’ Rocking can continue to emulate his old man.

That’s not out of the question with jockey Brett Prebble summing things up nicely. “He’s an untapped talent!”

Fast ‘n’ Rocking and Prince Harada could be two of the best three-year-old colts we will see this spring. But making any real judgment about their relative merits will have to wait for another day.

Although the pair ran first and second in the group 3 McNeil Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, the final stages of the race were so rough that Prince Harada suffered major interference from beaten favourite Miracles Of Life.

The winner, Fast ‘n’ Rocking, was not blameless either as he drifted across the latter in the closing stages to push her off course, making it impossible to say with certainty what the outcome would have been had Tony Vasil’s Prince Harada been able to get a clear run.

Lauren Stojakovic, the South Australian apprentice who won the Blue Diamond Stakes aboard Miracles Of Life in the autumn, will want to quickly forget Saturday as her filly badly hampered Prince Harada in the run to the line.

Certainly Vasil had no doubt that the heroine of the autumn had quickly become the villain of the early spring as his son of Haradasun was bashed and buffeted near the finish.
After deliberation Arnold and Vasil decided not to protest – taking the view that it wasn’t the winner who had caused most of the interference. Despite not protesting, Vasil made his feelings clear.

”She was a contributor, [Brett] Prebble (who rode Fast ‘n’ Rocking) finished it off, but she did the damage. It was a dead-set line ball protest, she got there before Prebble finished it off. Send her back to Adelaide … you saw the run, I don’t have to say anything,” he said.

Stojakovic was disappointed and looked upset after the race, saying that Miracles Of Life failed to settle early in the race and give herself a proper chance.

”She was way too fierce for the 1200, she was stirred up behind the gates, which is not like her. I am disappointed pretty much with the whole thing … there was a bit of bad luck on the line, she didn’t give me an easy ride, that’s for sure,” she said.

Stojakovic and Prebble were both suspended for 12 meetings.

Still, David Hayes’ son of Fastnet Rock was not winning out of turn – the trainer had dubbed him the best maiden in the country after his close second to Safeguard on his seasonal reappearance in the Vain Stakes a fortnight earlier – and now that he has got his head in front, his trainer expects him to go on with the job.

He could chase a huge payday in the Golden Rose in Sydney in a fortnight’s time, or wait to run back at Caulfield in the Guineas Prelude before a tilt at the $1 million Caulfield Guineas in early October.

”He’s a really exciting colt, I love the way he’s got the tactical speed and cruises, and Brett gave him a peach of a ride,” Hayes said. ”It was a bit rough and ready late, there might be a couple of hard luck stories in that, but as far as I am concerned he will be pretty hard to beat in anything he runs in from now on.

”He’s definitely heading for the Guineas. He might go to the Golden Rose if he does well, that’s a real stallion race now, and he would be one of the favourites now. If he licks the bin out and thrives he will go to Sydney, otherwise the Guineas Prelude.

”There’s too much value-add in the Golden Rose for a horse like him [to miss it].”

 


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