Horses To Follow » Rock And Roll Kid

Rock And Roll Kid

I am usually not into unlucky losers, there is usually a reason why unlucky losers are unlucky and that reason tends to raise its head again. As well as that, unlucky losers tend to be over-bet. However, I am happy to give Rock And Roll Kid another chance after another unlucky run through the race to finish second in the opening one-mile handicap at The Curragh on Sunday. Given too much to do on his previous start, over the same course and distance on Guineas weekend at the end of May, when he was beaten a length by Philario, that wasn’t the case on this occasion, but circumstances conspired against him.

He was well away and was a little free through the early stages, so Danny Mullins was right to restrain him in behind runners, which he duly did with minimum fuss. There was not much cause for concern as they reached half way as the Tony Mullins-trained gelding travelled well just behind the front rank, in the perfect position. He did need the gaps to open, but they do, more often than not, as long as the horse is travelling well enough to take them when they do. On this occasion, however, they didn’t, not for Rock And Roll Kid anyway. As ill-luck would have had it, the horse in the front rank that he was tracking was Ireland’s Call, who fell away quite quickly from two and a half furlongs out, and actually finished last, something amiss. In a tightly-packed field such as this, if you lose a half a length as one of the leaders falls back onto your lap, you usually lose a good position and at least five or six places. That was what happened to Rock And Roll Kid, and he actually found himself second last of the 18 runners passing the two-furlong pole.

Even though he was no more than four lengths off the lead, it still meant that he had to chart a passage through runners and pass almost all of his rivals, and he nearly did. Mullins moved him towards the centre of the track, and the horse picked up nicely. He didn’t show a lightning turn of foot, but he did begin to stay on really well past horses. Passing the furlong pole, he had moved into fourth place, but he still had a wall of three horses in front of him and had to be switched again towards the inside before running on well again to snatch second place, just a length behind Maria’s Dream.

To put the vagaries of luck in-running into context, passing the four-furlong pole, Rock And Roll Kid was two lengths off the pace, in the bank of horses immediately behind the front rank. Maria’s Dream was another length further back in the third bank of horses. However, the gap opened for Maria’s Dream and Gary Carroll out in the centre of the track, with the result that a furlong and a half out, the mare was just about in front, whereas Rock And Roll Kid was two lengths behind and still had a wall of horses in front of him. Of course, Jimmy Coogan’s mare had the pace to engineer a run for herself, but it wasn’t a lack of pace that did it for Rock And Roll Kid, and I am happy to put this down as just bad luck.

The son of Danehill Dancer progressed nicely through the lower handicap ranks last season, and ran a cracker on his debut this term to finish fourth behind Pollen in the Irish Lincoln. He raced off a mark of 94 on Sunday, a 7lb-higher mark than his Lincoln mark, but it still looks like it under-rates his ability. The handicapper is sure to give him a couple of pounds for this performance, but he continues to progress. As a son of Danehill Dancer, and given that he had performed well on easy ground, it is probable that he does need some cut in the ground to be at his best, but there could still be a big handicap in him. He is a half-brother to Kid Creole, whose four wins were gained over six and seven furlongs, and both of his win have been over seven furlongs, and it was obvious that he wanted to go slightly faster through the early stages of Sunday’s race than they were going so, although he does get the mile, he might be even better dropped back down to seven furlongs. The International Stakes, the big seven-furlong heritage handicap at Ascot’s King George meeting, could be the race for him should Tony Mullins be so inclined. His rating should get him into that race on or around the 9st mark and he could be a big player in that if he was allowed take his chance in it as long as the ground wasn’t too fast. Failing that, he could be good enough to contest the Supreme Stakes, a Group 3 race run over seven furlongs at Goodwood in September, when the ground could be a little easier.

28th June 2009