Rocket Spade won Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m). Photo: Kenton Wright (Racing Image)
Twenty-four hours after winning Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) with Rocket Spade on Sunday, coaches Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott enjoy the glory of a job well done.
The coach duo appropriately celebrated the blue ribbon victory with close friends and family in Matamata on Sunday evening after leaving behind taciturn Ellerslie, who had a feature meeting a day later than planned under COVID-19 level 2 alert conditions.
“It was a really satisfying and good win for the whole team at Wexford,” said O’Sullivan.
“Scotty and I both woke up with a headache this morning.”
Racing by the Hermitage Thoroughbreds, a race and breeding operation led by Hong Kong businessman Eugene Chuang, the Rocket Spade connection was eager to win the Derby and O’Sullivan said it was very satisfying to complete the mission.
“Five years ago, the owner gave us the opportunity to buy a horse for them, and that’s in a nutshell, to try and win the Derby,” he said.
“It was the third runner for the owner in the New Zealand Derby. Dragon Leap ran fourth last year and we also had Cha Siu Bao contest in the Derby which Gingernuts won.
“The saddle slipped and he came out of the gate and finished the last 40 distances. It was their introduction to the Derby runners so it was a bit demoralizing, and it was very satisfying to get the result on Sunday.
The journey across Tasman is now on the way for the son of Group One winner Fastnet Rock.
“We’re going to Sydney but what we’re going to do, we’re not 100 percent sure yet,” said O’Sullivan.
“The owner wants to go. I know the Australian Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m) is clearly visible racing, but we have nominated him for a few races and we will make that call with the owners.”
Apart from the Australian Derby, the three-year-old also holds a nomination for Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m), Gr. 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and Gr. 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m).
As a well-bred Group One champion horse, O’Sullivan admits the value of the Rocket Spade’s potential stud can influence which races he enters in Australia and he also recognizes that it is challenging to get to the top on many occasions.
“It was the grand final for us yesterday, that’s what we thought,” said O’Sullivan.
“After his win at Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m), he stopped and made a decent lift. We don’t need to improve his job because the race suited him for Derby and he was just in the zone yesterday.”
While it was Scott’s third Derby win, who previously costed Cut the Cake and Xcellent in partnership with Mike Moroney in the early 2000s, for O’Sullivan it was his first in a training capacity, and 28 years later since he saluted on Ship. classic Popsy, coached by his father Dave and brother, Paul.
“It seems not that long ago. I can clearly remember things that happened that day,” said O’Sullivan.
The four runners O’Sullivan and Scott at Ellerslie on Sunday wore the familiar dark green hue of the Hermitage Thoroughbreds’ red chevrons, including the mare that featured in Group One of the Spring Heat, who may have run her last race in New Zealand and did not appreciate the rainy conditions. soft at Ellerslie on Sunday when the third talent appeared Entriviere at Gr.3 King’s Plate (1200m).
“After yesterday, there really isn’t much left for him in New Zealand unless we take him to Australia and have a look at a place like Brisbane,” O’Sullivan said.
“She is a very fast, top-of-the-ground mare.
“She has been an outstanding mare to stall and I can’t see too many other races on the program that will raise her CV any further.”
Summer Passage is seventh in the same race, with six years, the stakes are placed on this preparation for the paddock and will return next season.
O’Sullivan is delighted with Cha Siu Bao’s run in the 1500m open and hopes to prepare seven years for the Group’s target back in Ellerslie next month, hoping for stronger conditions.
“He finished in a creditworthy third and the ground might be a little too testing for him, but there are races like the Easter Handicap (Gr.2, 1600m) that Andrew and I hope to prepare for,” said O’Sullivan. .
Meanwhile, Home hopes to have another runner headed for Sydney, with Group Three winner Force Of Will to go over 1600m at Ellerslie on Saturday in what will be his fifth racing appearance.
“The plan is to run on the Vinery Stakes (Gr.1,2000m) and we will run it this Saturday under special conditions over a mile,” said O’Sullivan.
“He is owned by Sir Owen Glenn and I think he is still untouchable and certainly deserves his chance.
“The plan was to run at the New Zealand Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) but he had a slight setback in bad blood and missed the race, so we chose to get it right and if he does well on Saturday he will get his ticket to Sydney. . “