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Enigmatic mare Roccia continues top form at Te Rapa

3 minute read

Twelve months ago, Roger James and Robert Wellwood were battling to see the best of Roccia, but the classy mare has returned to top form and collected back-to-back victories at Te Rapa on Saturday.

ROCCIA winning the DUNSTAN HORSEFEEDS STAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER
ROCCIA winning the DUNSTAN HORSEFEEDS STAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER Picture: Race Images Photo

James has regarded Roccia  to be somewhat of an enigma in the past with mixed performances, but persistence paid off when the mare produced a comfortable two-and-a-half length win at Pukekohe in November.

Ever-reliable hoop Warren Kennedy retained the ride aboard Roccia at Te Rapa with the daughter of Iffraaj starting a $3.60 favourite ahead of Canheroc ($4.20) and My Maebelline Girl ($4.90) in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Stayers Championship Qualifier (2400m).

Kennedy took a patient approach early settling the mare worse than midfield from barrier five, with My Maebelline Girl taking up the dominant pace-making role throughout. Roccia began to loom strongly from the 600m and sprinted strongly to better My Maebelline Girl by just over a length at the post.

"That was a professional effort today," James said.

"This time last year she had two feet on a banana skin, she wasn't really fronting even though her work at home was good. We ended up taking the blinkers off her and since then she's been pretty solid."

James rates the mare's staying ability and hopes to venture beyond Saturday's distance, highlighted by current nominations for each of the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2400m), Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m) before a bid at the Gr.3 NZ Campus For Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m).

"It sets her up for a lot of options, I have no doubt that she will get further than a mile-and-a-half as well so the patience of the owners will hopefully pay off," he said.

Kennedy was impressed with the mare's performance, although believing a different approach may see her continue her winning efforts into stronger company.

"It was a really good victory," Kennedy said.

"She doesn't really help you at the start as she just wants to be left alone and wants to pull through her races. I just left her near the back and they were slowing down more and more, I thought I'd make a move like I did last time but they would've come at me and she would've worked too hard.

"So, I just waited for one or two to make a move first, and I'd go for the late sweep.

"At the top of the straight she was really building some nice momentum, we got to the front about the 350m and she just piled on to the line.

"Although she's a big-actioned mare and she's slightly one-paced, she seems to track them a lot better and go off them a lot quicker (from behind), once she gets there she just floats around a bit so I think in the stronger races where she can sit back a bit and chase them to the line we'll see a better result from her."

Mapperley Stud principal Simms Davison sold Roccia via gavelhouse.com in March 2019, where she was sourced by Steven Scaglia, the current Business Manager at the Matamata nursery for $13,000. Scaglia retains partial ownership of the five-win mare, who has now earned over $108,000 for her connections.
Racing and Sports

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