Rocker Band rates 1:52.1, three NZ wins for Overport Lodge

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In a virtual action replay of the previous weekend, the smart Greg Brodie-owned mare Rocker Band lowered her fastest mile rate again, this time to 1:52.1, with her first Australian Group One win.

The 5YO Rocknroll Hanover-Mainland Banner mare, transferred from the Mark Jones stable to the care of Barry Purdon for logistical reasons for her Australian racing, led from the seven gate for Zac Butcher in the 1720m Alabar Ladyship Cup at Melton, on Saturday, February 4.

Rocker Band, shown winning the Movenpick Mile (1700m) at Auckland on November 4. (Trish Dunell photo).

She held the All Stars mare A Piccadilly Princess by half a neck in the Group One mares feature, taking her earnings closer to $300,000 from 12 wins in 34 starts.

Meanwhile, at Wyndham on Sunday, Mr Brodie’s promising 3YO Whittaker was again very impressive in the deep south of NZ for the Mark Jones stable.

Whittaker (3c Sportswriter-Anarchy), a hot $1.30 favourite, was handy from the outset from the three gate for driver Sam Ottley, pressing to the front at the 1700m.

They trailed second favourite Royal Bengal at the 1400m then proved much too good in the run home, dashing clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths in 2:59.8 (2:00.5 mile rate) for the 2400m.

Earlier stablemate Aymar was again luckless on her south campaign, trailing three back on the markers from an inside second row draw.

She was unable to find racing room when travelling well down the straight, having to settle for fifth as the front-running Regan Todd-trained Kayteeoh Denario held in 1:54.9 for the 1609m.

The Mark Jones stable advanced to 30 wins for the season with other wins over the weekend by Say Your Pres in the maiden trot at Ashburton on Saturday, February 4, and by good grade trotter Eyre I Come, at the Amberley grass meeting at Rangiora on Monday, February 6.

Eyre I Come, who scored his seventh win from 33 starts, taking his earnings to $80,343, at Rangiora on Monday.

Eyre I Come, after failing to step on terms at his previous start at Addington, bounced back on the grass, overcaming a 30m handicap to take out the C2 and faster Davis Ogilvie Handicap Trot on Monday.

Back early, he tracked up Gershwin beginning the final lap, pressing to the front at the 1200m.

He held All Settled Down by three-quarters of a length, with Gershin holding third, ahead of Soney Beatt, with the winner finishing off with a fast 27.6s final quarter.

Say Your Pres (3f The Pres-Winfield Invasion), a beaten favourite first-up when sixth at Motukarara the previous week, appeared much more comfortable on the all-weather at Ashburton, trailing early, then leading over the last 1600m for trainer Mark Jones.

The younger half-sister to this season’s three-win trotter McLovin came clear in the run home to win by 3 1/4 lengths in 3:09.6 (2400m).

Say Your Pres, who trotted her last 800m in 58.4s and final 400m in 28.5s, was bred and is raced by Dunedin’s Daryl and Anne Trainor.

Her grand-dam Egnal (Noodlum-Windfeld Del) won four, while her great grand-dam Winfield Del (Armbro Del-Charming Widow) was an unraced since to the former top squaregaiter Alias Armbro, who won 15 races including the 1979 Dominion Handicap at Addington when driven by Mike De Filippi for trainer Brian Gliddon.

Meanwhile, fellow Overport Lodge filly, Ariadne Lavra, fought gamely but had to settle for second to front-running Bonnie Joan in a 1:52.8 mile in the First Nevele R Fillies Heat at Ashburton, being race-timed in 1:53.1.

Eased from the seven gate early, she moved up parked at the 800m and chased well but Bonnie Joan was too good in front over her last 800m in a sizzling 53.1s and final 400m in 26.2s.

Rocker Band’s half-sister Glenferrie Classic improved three wide with cover from the 800m in the Prodigal Seelster Mares Summer of Speed Series and battled away for fifth, being race-timed in a career best 1:53.1 (1609m).

Victory went to Ultimate Desire, who after moving forward early to find a trialing spot on the outer, was out and rolling three wide from the 600m and kept going to win in 1:52.6.

The pace was more even than the 3YO fillies heat with the leaders running the last 800m in the mares race in 55.2s and closing 400m in 27.6s.