Michael Heaton | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
After a frustrating run of poor barrier draws, Follow The Stars four-year-old Robbie Rocket bounced back in a big way at Northam last start and looks primed to land back-to-back wins at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The Ron Huston-trained gelding justified his $1.10 favouritism to romp in by almost 13 metres at Northam and has come up with the prized pole position in Friday’s Manning – G1 Winner Pace (2130m) with champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr aboard.
Huston says it was pleasing to see the eight-time winner back to his best last time out.
“He finally drew a barrier and did the job which was good,” he said.
“It was nice and soft.
“I’ve been so frustrated with his draws that I actually tried to qualify him for the stands – that’s the main reason why he trialled a couple times.
“He’d been going around for over two years without drawing a barrier with the mobiles, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with him in the stands so I’ve kept him to the mobiles.
“It’s been frustrating, I’ve got to be honest.”
Robbie Rocket won his first two race starts as a two-year-old before going on to finish fourth to Give Us A Wave in the 2020 Group 1 2YO C&G Westbred Classic (2130m) and third to Mighty Ronaldo in the Group 1 2YO Golden Slipper (2130m) at his next outing.
Huston feels a combination of a strong crop of juveniles and bad barriers prevented the gelding from figuring more prominently.
“He’s not a bad little horse,” Huston said.
“As a two and three-year-old he was amongst them but it was just a really good crop.
“I don’t think he ever really had a chance to show how good he could be and barrier draws killed him all the way along.”
Asked his confidence levels of Robbie Rocket landing back-to-back wins on Friday night, Huston is confident he’s the horse to beat.
“He’s trained on good this week,” he said.
“He was probably a touch unders at Northam last start so it’s topped him off beautifully for this week.
“He worked really good yesterday so I can’t fault him and Junior had a choice of three and stuck with him so that’s a good sign.”
After taking a step back from training for a while, Huston renewed his trainers’ licence two years ago and now prepares a small team of pacers.
He’s looking forward to seeing the development of his two recent yearling acquisitions who he hopes will fill the void of his 2021 Group 1 WA Oaks winner, Benesari Lane, who will head to the breeding barn in the spring.
“I went and bought a couple at the sales this year,” Huston said.
“Benesari Lane retired, so we’ve basically got Robbie Rocket and his full sister – Sonic Suzy – who’s won a couple.
“They’re handy enough and then we’ll get the two babies back and that’ll be us.
“We try and aim for those Westbred races with the young horses – that’s our go.”