Reigning Newmarket Handicap winner Roch ‘N’ Horse has trainer Michael Moroney enamoured by her blossoming the past 12 months from “plain Jane” to Flemington straight stunner.
Moroney, whose hand on Saturday includes Australian Cup Prelude (2000m) fancy Emissary, has a score to settle after Roch ‘N’ Horse was overlooked in the 2022 world’s best racehorse rankings.
Fifteen Australian-trained sprinters made the 201-strong Longines world rankings spearheaded by Nature Strip (=3), Giga Kick (=44), Home Affairs (=44), Private Eye (=44) and Lost And Running (=82).
New Zealand-bred Roch ‘N’ Horse recorded two Group 1 wins and two Group 2 second places from six starts in Australia last year.
“What I can’t believe she wasn’t rated in the top four Australian sprinters in the world, it’s actually a joke,” Moroney lamented.
“I rang them up over that, I can’t believe she wouldn’t be.
“She’s won two Group 1s, weight-for-age (and) handicap, not many have done that in a year, she’s obviously one that hasn’t got a following mainly because she’s taken time to do what she’s done.”
Roch ‘N’ Horse stared down Nature Strip last year to win the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) at Flemington.
The six-year-old mare, who ran 10th first-up in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Sandown, opened $34 with TAB for the Newmarket behind fancied I Wish I Win ($3.90) and In Secret ($5).
Roch ‘N’ Horse also defeated Nature Strip in the Group 1 Champions Sprint in the spring. Picture: Vince Caligiuri-Getty Images
“She’s a totally different mare (this year compared to last), power everywhere and she’s probably at her strongest,” Moroney, who also has lightweight chance Snapper in the Newmarket, said.
“I’m really impressed with the mare and I’m glad I gave her a hitout (Oakleigh Plate) … because she needed it.
“She’s turned into this muscular, strong mare which has surprised me even, she was a bit of a plain Jane when we had her back in New Zealand but she’s really matured into a gorgeous mare now.
“You can just about see yourself in her coat now, dapples everywhere and at her best colour now, I can’t fault her.”
Flemington specialist Roch ‘N’ Horse has run first or second in her four starts up the famous straight.
“It takes a tough horse (to handle the straight) and that’s what she’s got,” Moroney said.
“As I said to the owners, whether I’m right or wrong, when she got within half a length of Nature Strip (in last year’s Champions Sprint) I could see she was going to get him.
“It was as if she stared him in the eye and said ‘yes’, it takes those tough horses to win up the straight, I think that’s her strength.”