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A Rock steady climb to Derby doorstep

Rockfast - Photo: Singapore Turf Club

Photo: Singapore Turf Club

Champion trainer Mark Walker said Rockfast was the best shot he has had at the Emirates Singapore Derby since he began training at Kranji in 2010.

Initially sceptical the son of Fastnet Rock ticked all the boxes for the final Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge run over 2000m on July 10, the Kiwi horseman has slowly warmed up to his chances, especially after he reeled off his last two wins over the classic distance.

Granted they were recorded against Kranji Stakes C company while he will now jump straight off the deep end in a Group One race where he will be pitted against several better-rated and more Group-seasoned contenders. In other words, the cream of the crop of this year's four-year-olds, such as Well Done (2nd Leg winner, Patron's Bowl), Titanium (1st Leg winner, Stewards' Cup), Perfect P and Affleck, to name a few.

Walker, a five-time New Zealand premiership winner who has not won a Derby there or here, is aware this is the bee's knees, but his confidence has obviously bulged.

"He's been targeted at the right races and the good thing is he's already had a couple of runs over 2000m," he said.

"His three-year-old form was strong in New Zealand (second to Turn Me Loose in the Gr.1 New Zealand Guineas over 1600m in 2014), but he was gelded late and he lost his way a little after the operation.

"He is hitting his straps at the right time. His last win was very impressive considering he did it on the Short Course E with 58kgs and had to do it from a long way back. Few horses can do what he did.

"Last year, Sebrose ran fifth (to Quechua) and Flying Fulton also ran well when he finished fourth (to Clint in 2011). But Rockfast is probably the best chance I've had at the Derby.

"He just needs a bit of rain to give himself a better shot at it."

Walker said the owners, Te Akau Racing Stable, will be sending a party of about 20 people to the Derby, but that won't add any more pressure to the occasion.

"It's always nice to have them over. If Rockfast wins, it will be even better, but it's all about enjoying the racing," he said. - Singapore Turf Club


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