History will tell you that New Zealand-breds are famed for their staying power, while their antipodean cousins across the Tasman are better known for their sprinting prowess. But on March 12 a 5-year-old mare named Roch ‘N’ Horse beat the Australians at their own game when she became the first New Zealand-bred winner of the Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (G1) at Flemington Racecourse.
In a stunning upset, the 100-1 shot beat 66-1 chance The Astrologist by half a length—the third and fourth home started 25-1 and 17-1—to hand the winner’s often underrated sire By Incanto his fifth individual group 1 winner.
There really is nothing like a big sprint field down the straight at Flemington. Check out the bird’s eye view from the clock tower – Roch ‘n’ Horse wins the @YulongInvestme1 Newmarket Handicap for @BallymoreStabls @littleavondale @pattymoloney and New Zealand! pic.twitter.com/GJSbiiVloa
— Victoria Racing Club (@FlemingtonVRC) March 12, 2022
The Mike Moroney-trained Roch ‘N’ Horse was the headline act of a brilliant day for horses bred across the Tasman, with New Zealand-breds taking out three other stakes races in Australia and those black-type contests were all landed by progeny of the late stallion Tavistock, once again highlighting the indelible void left in the industry by his untimely death in 2018.
Bred and raced by Little Avondale Stud, who stands Per Incanto in New Zealand, Roch ‘N’ Horse went into Saturday’s contest with four victories to her name, including in the listed Power Turf Sprint Stakes, while she was most recently seen finishing runner- up in the Jan. 15 Jr & N Berkett Telegraph Stakes (G1), beaten narrowly by Levantewho finished fourth here.
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Sent off the complete outsider in the 17-runner field, Roch ‘N’ Horse powered home to defeat The Astrologist, while group 1-winning mare September Run—who had finished tenth in last year’s edition of the group 1—was another nose away in third.
In winning for the first time at the top level, Roch ‘N’ Horse also provided jockey Patrick Moloney with his first group 1 winner.
He told Racing.com: “It’s just massive. I can’t thank everyone enough and the horse today, she was just in the zone.
“(Roch ‘N’ Horse) waltzed out of the yard (and) had a strut to her. She was down at the barriers quiet as a lamb and for a horse that I trialed during the week, she was pretty hot. But today she was so calm and conserved her energy.
“Things couldn’t have worked out any better. I said to Mike early that I thought we’d go down to the fence and follow the fence. It is as good as anywhere and we got a beautiful cart on the back of September Run and I peeled her to the outside early enough and she just went bang for me.
“The owner, Catriona, bred this horse and said, ‘I wouldn’t have traveled for 48 hours and struggled to get here if I didn’t think it was a chance’. That just filled me with confidence.”
While Catriona Williams of Little Avondale Stud was on hand at Flemington to welcome back her star, husband Sam watched the race from a pub in Turangi as the Masterton breeder ventured home from the six-day Karaka Sales.
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) March 12, 2022
“Last week with Belluci Babe winning a group 3 in Sydney was unbelievable, but winning a group 1 in Australia over 1,200 meters—you’ve got to be kidding me,” said Sam Williams.
“We were halfway home from Karaka and stopped at the pub in Turangi to watch the race. The whole pub knew we were there. At the 300-meter mark when she made her move, we were screaming.
“We shouted the bar down and we were getting out of there before they wouldn’t let us out of the town.
“One bloke asked us if we’d like to buy a house there, so we thought we should be on our way.”
Roch ‘N’ Horse was retained by Little Avondale after failing to make her NZ$40,000 reserve during Book 2 of the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale in 2018. She is the only winner out of the unraced Cecconia mare Rochfort, a half sister to group 3 scorer Weissmuller and listed winner Travolta†