Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Micheal Ferguson admires Rockaball’s sit-sprinting ability, but he made a snap decision to change his driving tactics in the 2130m Choices Flooring Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when the early pace was dreadfully slow.
From barrier No. 7, Ferguson restrained Rockaball, the $5.50 second favourite, back to last in the field of twelve. But when Joe With The Flow ($6.50) dawdled through the lead time in 38.8sec. Ferguson dashed Rockaball forward with a sharp three-wide burst 600m after the start.
Rockaball issued a challenge for the lead 150m later, but when Joe With The Flow (Lindsay Harper) resisted, Ferguson was quite content rate Rockaball in the breeze.
Rockaball got on terms with Joe With The Flow 250m from home and he maintained a slight advantage up the home straight to win by a neck from the pacemaker, with the $1.45 favourite Rupert Of Lincoln rattling home to be third after he had trailed the leader and did not get clear until 220m from home.
“I expected a fast lead time,” explained Ferguson. “But when there was such a slow lead time, I decided to go forward to get Rockaball up on the speed. It didn’t bother me that the leader didn’t hand up.
“I think Rockaball had a little bit left in the tank at the finish. When Rupert Of Lincoln was coming late, Rockaball was off and gone again. I expected him to win like that in this grade. Definitely, as he goes up into higher grades, racing three back on the pegs, he will be dangerous.”
Rockaball, a winner of two races in New Zealand, has performed in fine style in WA for his part-owner and trainer Caris Hamilton-Smith, with his 25 starts in the State producing eight wins and four placings.