Group One plan executed to perfection

Racing Desk
4 March 2015

Attention to detail paved the way at Ellerslie on Wednesday for Rock Diva to bring further Group One glory the way of Tony Pike and Raffles Farm.

The secret to the mare’s success in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup lay in the pre-race plan decided upon by her Cambridge trainer and Raffles’ Bruce Sherwin.

Rick Diva Photo - Trish Dunell

“Bruce and I looked at all the options and we couldn’t see any other one than to go back from the draw,” Pike said,

“She came from a long way off them and it was a cool ride by Mark (Du Plessis) and she outstayed them.”

Carrying the colours of her stablemate and dual Group One-winning sprinter Sacred Star, Rock Diva settled at the tail of the field and she took advantage of the field breaking up to pick a winning path home.

“She had a horrible draw and I have to thank Bruce and Pikey for coming up with a great plan,” Du Plessis said.

“They said to do nothing on her early and she switched right off. Coming to the half mile I was asking Moses to part the seas and it happened, she was really strong on the line.”

Rock Diva finished powerfully to overhaul King Kamada, who was also given a top ride by Kelly Myers, and Pondarosa Miss was a gallant third under Noel Harris.

“It’s a great buzz to win this race – my parents won it in 1981 (with Drum) and I vaguely remember that,” Pike said. “I’m rapt for the mare, rapt for the owners and all the staff at home.”

The winner of the Gr.3 Sunline Vase 12 months ago, Rock Diva’s form to the cup had been encouraging and Pike’s confidence had been rounded off by her third placing in her final lead-up.

“All her races had been very good and the Avondale Cup proved she was peaking at the right time when she closed off late,” he said.

“She’s due a spell now and then we’ll look at all our spring options – the Melbourne Cup is one of those.” – NZ Racing Desk.

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