Day At The Track

Heaven Rocks ready to rumble

06:41 AM 14 Nov 2017 NZDT
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Heaven Rocks,Harness racing
Heaven Rocks

The Heaven Rocks roller-coaster may be about to hit a high again at the right time.

Although the oddball pacer has been a huge drifter in the market for tomorrow's $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington, at least he is going to make the race now.

And win, lose or draw tomorrow, a few days later he looks set to be a warm favourite for the rich New Zealand Free-For-All.

After a weird few days which started with Heaven Rocks' trainers thinking he might have to be scratched from tomorrow's iconic race, he is now back in the fight and apparently ready to rumble.


The drama started when Heaven Rocks worked poorly by his high standards - he can be a dazzling track worker - on Friday, a disappointment which followed a poor blood report in the middle of last week.

Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen contacted stewards and told them the huge pacer was in doubt for the Cup but blood tests taken on Friday came back Saturday and painted a far brighter picture. Then Heaven Rocks blazed around the All Stars training track yesterday, easily accounting for race rival Have Faith In Me.

"He feels far more like it and it is all systems go for the Cup now," said Rasmussen. "It looked like he was coming down with a virus but clearly he is better now."

The drama-filled weekend comes after Heaven Rocks's crazy last six weeks, during which he shortened into Cup favouritism after some stunning trials before he appeared to have broken down when racing erratically in his comeback race at Addington on October 6.

Although he has improved since with stablemate Lazarus looking faultless, Heaven Rocks has drifted from his market low $2.30 to win the Cup to a nearly backable $8 for tomorrow, with Lazarus now into a historic low $1.25.

If the best version of Lazarus turns up, Heaven Rocks might be racing for second tomorrow but a positive performance could see him start a firm favourite for the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All on Friday.

Of the Cup runners Lazarus, Have Faith In Me, Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and Tiger Tara are all likely to miss Friday's free-for-all as they are scheduled to leave for Australia on Thursday on their way to Perth Inter Dominion carnival.

Northern mare Better B Amazed has already been pulled out of the meeting after some flat workouts while Locharburn and Waikiki Beach are scratched from the junior free-for-all tomorrow which could leave Friday's big group one pace headlined by Heaven Rocks and the likes of Jack's Legend, Titan Banner, No Doctor Needed and Maxim.

Australian visitor Tiger Tara has been one of the big movers in the Cup market, into third favouritism at $12 and $2 a place after arriving in Christchurch in great shape and thrilling trainer Kevin Pizutto with his fast work on Saturday.

"All you can ask to have your horse at his best and that's exactly where Tiger Tara is at," says Pizutto.

"He's had a great prep back home, travelled over well and worked really well."

Pizzuto, who is stabled at Mitchell Kerr's barn, worked Tiger Tara over 3200m in 4min 15sec.

Michael Guerin

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