Racing: Roch ‘N’ Horse stuns racing world with incredible win in Newmarket Handicap at Flemington

Sport

Roch ‘N’ Horse claimed a stunning win in Australia. Photo/Getty

New Zealand mare Roch ‘N’ Horse has stunned the horse racing world by beating the Australians at their own game in the A$1.5 million Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

The 100-1 outsider captured the Group 1 sprint, beating many of Australia’s elite speedsters, who are widely considered to be the best in the world. Yet Roch ‘N Horse, winner of just three of her 12 starts here, beat them fair and square on her Australian debut.

To add insult to the injury to Australian sprinting pride, fellow Kiwi mare Levante flashed into fourth and was the best of the much-vaunted sprinters who raced wide on the track, making the race one of the proudest sprinting successes for the New Zealand industry in decades.

This is not how these glamorous Australian sprints are supposed to work.

New Zealand is revered for producing wonderful Guineas, Oaks and Derby three-year-olds, milers and 2000m horses, and the odd staying great like this season’s Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant. But the Aussies have cornered the market on sprinting stars as they breed for speed.

Roch ‘N’ Horse is trained by expat Michael Moroney, with plenty of the preparation done by his Matamata training partner Pam Gerard, who almost pulled off the Telegraph at Trentham with the mare in January.

It was also the first Group 1 win for jockey Patrick Moloney.

Today wasn’t the first time a New Zealand horse has won a major Group 1 sprint in Australia but the Newmarket is a cherished jewel in their crown and the result could be a game changer for Little Avondale Stud, the historic Masterton breeding operation.

Not only did they breed and retain part ownership of Roch ‘N’ Horse, who is now worth millions as a broodmare, but they stand her sire Per Incanto.

Already a premiership topper in Hong Kong and sales ground and export favorite here, for Per Incanto the boost is enormous.

One of Little Avondale’s owners Sam Williams was busy at the final day of the Karaka yearling sales but wife Catriona got up at 1.30am on Saturday morning to make a Wellington flight to Melbourne to be at Flemington, a remarkable act of faith considering Roch ‘N ‘Horse was so long in the market.

“That wasn’t the worst of it, when I got to the airport I couldn’t find the right Covid documentation so I had to ring one of my best friends to go to our horse and get on my computer to find it for me ,” said Williams.

“So many things needed to go right for me to even be here it felt like destiny.

“The race is just a blur. When she got the front I just went blank.

“It is not because we didn’t think she could win, I wouldn’t have come all this way if I didn’t think she could, but you don’t win races like this every day.

“I just wish Sam could have been here because he is the one who believed in Per Incanto all along and then believed in this mare.”

For all the decades of success for Little Avondale Stud, this was the first Group 1 winner to race in their colours.

Now their mare Roch ‘N’ Horse has her name alongside some of the greatest sprinters in Australian history and enters a whole new world of breeding possibilities when she retires.

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