Rocababy’s timing was impeccable when the daughter of Westbury Stud’s El Roca impressively broke her maiden in the Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies’ Classic at Wanganui.
The Anna Clement-trained three-year-old had been unplaced on debut last season before she finished runner-up at Otaki and had no trouble going one better on Saturday to credit her sire with his seventh individual stakes winner.
Te Akau’s Romancing The Moon, who was bought out of Westbury’s draft at Karaka by David Ellis for $50,000, completed a grand result for El Roca when she finished second in just her second appearance.
Rocababy is raced by her New Plymouth breeder Graham Meredith, who also has a unique tie to Westbury’s star young stallion Tarzino.
Months before he won the G1 VRC Derby at Flemington in 2015, Meredith had purchased his dam Zarzino in foal to Tavistock for just $1,500.
He sold the resulting colt foal for $400,000 at Karaka in 2016 and as Bulwark was a winner and in 2021 Tarzino’s sister Tavizab, who is unraced and the last foal out of Zarzino, was sold for $230,000.
For Clement and winning rider Ashvin Mudhoo, it was their first taste of black type success.
“I’ve had placings before in black type races but never a win and I can tell you it is an amazing feeling,” Clement said.
“I actually didn’t watch the race that closely until they were getting nearing the home straight as I was so nervous.
“When I looked up, I thought gee she is right up there with them and then she just kept on coming and went on and won it.
“I thought Ashvin rode her really well as we told him he might have to come wide with the rain we got during the day and the way the track was playing and he just judged everything perfectly.”
Clement believed Rocababy deserved her place in the fillies’ feature and was rewarded in spades.
“She had her first race at Waverley in the Castletown Stakes and never really featured, but learned a lot from the experience,” she said.
“Next time at Otaki she fought really hard behind Librarsi, so I felt she could cope in a better race as long as she could get a wet track which she just loves.”
The Gerry Harvey-bred and sold Marroni showed his quality at Te Rapa on Sunday when he overcame an interrupted run for a first-up victory over 1500 metres to put him in line for higher honours.
Trainer Andrew Forsman has now set his sights on the G1 Livamol Classic with last season’s G3 Manawatu Cup winner.
“There are a couple of paths we have plotted to get him there and hopefully he can measure up at weight-for-age,” he said.
“I know it was a handicap (at Te Rapa) on a rain-affected track and he has only carried a light weight (52kgs), but we will give him another run over a mile somewhere and he will tell us where he is at.”
A son of Makfi, Marroni was a $90,000 graduate when offered by Westbury Stud and has a pedigree to back his claims at the highest level.
He is out of the Encosta De Lago mare Bacio Del Vinto, who is a daughter of multiple Group 1 winner Lotteria with the Westbury Stud The Inferno, a former Champion Singapore performer and Australian Group 2 winner who also finished runner-up in last season’s G1 Moir Stakes, also featuring in the family.
Meanwhile, the Harvey-bred Swiss Ace three-year-old Lammer has made an impressive start to his career and looks more than capable of making his mark in far stronger company for trainer Kacy Fogden.
He placed in his first two starts for the Gold Coast trainer before breaking his maiden on his home track and he made it two on the bounce on Saturday when he romped home at Doomben.
The gelding settled at the back of a small field before improving 600 metres from home and the short-priced favourite strolled clear in the run home to score by 2.75l.
Lammer was purchased out of Westbury Stud’s draft at Karaka for $35,000 and is out of the More Than Ready mare Sainted, who subsequently foaled a sister and a colt last year by Tarzino before a return visit.
Sainted is a half-sister to the multiple stakes winner Karakakatie and the family of the Group 1-winning relatives Bonanova, Fraternity and Telesto.