Horses To Follow » Roker Park

Roker Park

Roker Park ran remarkably well given the circumstances to finish third in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup at Hamilton on Friday evening. For starters, he was drawn in stall one closest to the rail, which isn’t really where you want to be on soft ground at Hamilton, which it almost certainly was given the rain that fell during the evening, despite the fact that they gave it as good ground before racing started. Then he missed the kick, again, something you don’t want to be doing in a 15-runner six-furlong handicap. He generally likes to be up with the pace, but he was on his head the whole way after that, playing catch up, and at no point in the race did Neil Callan get to stop rowing. The other horses drawn low, Baby Strange and Opus Maximum, drawn three and two respectively, both tended to edge towards the centre, where the main body of the field raced, and Callan had Roker Park in behind Baby Strange, with a gap between him and the near rail, for much of the journey. Stone last passing the two-furlong pole, the rider switched Roker Park towards the near side rail to get a run, and the horse picked up. Still only about fourth or fifth last at the furlong pole, he finished strongest of all to snatch third place from favourite Knot In Wood, behind Quest For Success and Tamagin, right on the line.

This is always a strong race, this year’s renewal was no exception, and Roker Park didn’t have the run of it, so he did really well to get as close as he did. This was his third run now in cheekpieces. He won the previous two, and all three have been way superior to anything he had ever done before. He has shown that he can handle easy ground as well as fast ground, and he appears to be at his best over six furlongs when he can race up with or just off the pace. He is in the Sky Bet Dash at York on Saturday, and he will be an interesting contender in that of he takes his chance, off just a 1lb higher mark than his Hamilton mark. Although he was well beaten in both of his runs at York, both of them were before Kevin Ryan started trying headgear on him. It is a track that favours horses who race up with the pace and, as long as Roker Park doesn’t miss the kick like he did last week, he could go well in it.

17th July 2009