A day after his connections took a leap of faith with a late nomination for the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m), emerging stayer Canheroc (El Roca) rewarded their confidence with a powerful lead-up performance in the Listed Marton Jockey Club Marton Cup (2200m) at Hastings on Saturday.
Canheroc had risen steadily through the North Island’s staying ranks in recent months, culminating in a close third behind subsequent Group Three winner Trust In You in the Dunstan Feeds Stayers’ Championship Final (2400m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day.
The El Roca gelding took another step up for Saturday’s $80,000 feature, and he rose to the occasion in style with a dominant five-length win. The TAB now rates him a $6 chance for the Wellington Cup on January 20, sharing second favouritism with Waisake. Mary Louise is the market leader at $5.
“Friday was the deadline to put in a late nomination for the Wellington Cup, so we took a punt and paid up, hoping that he’d justify it with a good run today,” trainer Chris Wood said. “It’s all worked out really well and his performance has given us a bit of confidence to have a crack at Trentham in a couple of weeks’ time.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll run two miles. You never know for sure until you try it, but he races like a horse who’ll see the distance out strongly. We’ll just have to hope that they run the Wellington Cup at a reasonable tempo and he gets every chance.”
Wood admitted to some concerns about the deteriorating Heavy8 track on Saturday, but Canheroc was nevertheless sent out as a $4.40 favourite and blew his nine rivals off the racetrack.
Kelly Myers, who was riding the six-year-old for the first time, got him to settle into a smooth rhythm in midfield as Madame Le Fay set a strong pace out in front.
The leader began to tire approaching the home turn and the field bunched up tightly. Myers brought Canheroc out into clear air down the extreme outside and let him rip in the straight. He swept to the lead at the 200m mark and romped clear to win with ease from Prince Alby and Never Look Back.
“That was a really good performance,” Wood said. “I was a little bit worried when the second lot of rain came today, but he seemed to get through the ground comfortably enough.
“Kelly did a very good job on him today. She got him to settle really well and got him to the right part of the track when it mattered.
“There was a good tempo, which is always such a big help for staying horses like him, and once Kelly got him into the clear, he was away.”
Canheroc has now had 27 starts for four wins, seven placings and $187,305 in stakes for her owner-breeders, Taranaki’s Schumacher family.
Canheroc became the ninth individual stakes winner for Westbury Stud stallion El Roca, and he is the best of three foals to race out of the twice-winning Colombia mare Goldie Cantride.