Harness racing: Rock N Roll Doo likely to miss Hunter Cup

Victoria Cup hero Rock N Roll Doo could be a shock omission from Saturday week’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup field.

Connections are weighing up a switch to focus on Sydney’s Miracle Mile as they battle to lift the budding superstar from a form slump.

Rock N Roll Doo has unravelled himself at his past two starts by overracing badly and a subsequent veterinary inspection this week revealed “a few minor niggles”.

“The plan was to drop him back to a sprint race this week and then make a call on the Hunter Cup, but he won’t race this week now,” trainer Mick Stanley said.

“We had the vet go right over him after the Ballarat run (last Saturday night) and they found a couple of little things which could have been irritating him.

“So, now it’s a question of whether the Hunter Cup is the best path after the past few weeks he’s had or whether we skip it and go to Sydney earlier to focus on the sprint races.”

Rock N Roll Doo’s recent runs have Stanley wondering whether he is better in shorter races at this stage of his career.

“We’re still learning about him. He’s won some staying races, but when he’s able to find the front and do it on his terms,” he said.

“Maybe he’s not a stayer? He’s gone super in the sprint races at Menangle and even the Victoria Cup was a middle distance (2240m) not a staying race.

“It’s an interesting stage for him. He’s gone from being the most relaxed horse you’d see into really wanting to fire up and get on with the job in his races.

“The frustrating part is that he’s flying at home. His work is at least as good as Victoria Cup time.”

It’s exasperating for Stanley, who is sidelined from driving with a back injury.

Stand-in driver Anthony Butt echoed Stanley’s comments.

“I’ve been driving him in work and in a recent trial … the horse is flying,” he said.

“Even in the warm-up at Ballarat last weekend he felt fantastic. We settled in a great spot in the race, but he just wouldn’t settle. He pulled himself into the ground and had nothing left at the finish.”

Star Kiwi raider Copy That stormed into clear Hunter Cup favouritism with a dominant all-the-way Ballarat Cup win.

“It was emphatic, wasn’t it?” said trainer Ray Green.

“He’s clearly the one to beat in the Hunter Cup on that.

“He’s the best he’s ever been. The speed has always been there, but he’s kept maturing and getting stronger over the past year or two.

“He’s right in the zone, as they say.”

The likely additions from the Ballarat Cup into the Hunter Cup field are Andy Gath’s exciting four-year-old Catch A Wave and last year’s runner-up Spirit Of St Louis.

* Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp

Originally published as Harness racing: Rock N Roll Doo likely to miss Hunter Cup

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