Rocababy lands The O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes

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Lightly raced filly Rocababy upset the applecart at Wanganui on Saturday when she came with a determined late finish to take out one of the feature events on the day, the Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes (1200m).

The Anna Clement-trained daughter of Westbury Stud stallion El Roca came into the race with a solid last start placing behind the Allan Sharrock runner, Librarsi who was installed a warm favourite for the contest.

However, punters largely ignored the chances of Rocababy as she drifted to the juicy odds that were made to look well off the mark as she began to loom into contention from a midfield position approaching the home turn.

With pacemaker Wessex, the well fancied Romancing The Moon and Librarsi looking set to fight out the finish at the 250m it was Rocababy and rider Ashvin Mudhoo who found the best final kick as she eased away from the trio to win stylishly by half a length at the winning post.

The victory provided Clement with her first success at stakes level and she was having trouble taking it all in after missing a good deal of the race through nerves.

“I’ve had placings before in black type races but never a win and I can tell you it is an amazing feeling,” she said.

“I actually didn’t watch the race that closely until they were getting nearing the home straight as I was so nervous.

“When I looked up, I thought gee she is right up there with them and then she just kept on coming and went on and won it.

“I thought Ashvin rode her really well as we told him he might have to come wide with the rain we got during the day and the way the track was playing and he just judged everything perfectly.”

Clement has always had faith in her charge and felt she deserved her chance at a decent race after her run behind Librarsi at Otaki.

“She had her first race at Waverley in the Castletown Stakes (Listed, 1200m) and never really featured but learnt a lot from the experience,” Clement said.

“Next time at Otaki she fought really hard behind Librarsi, so I felt she could cope in a better race as long as she could get a wet track which she just loves.

“I was a little worried that it might not be wet enough for her, but when the rain came it just suited her perfectly.

“I don’t really know what we will do next with her, I’m really just looking forward to getting her home tonight and celebrating a nice milestone for us.”

Rocababy is the second foal of Mastercraftsman mare Christine Ann and is raced by her breeder Graham Meredith who also has promising Savabeel four-year-old Stallone in the Clement stable.

She becomes the seventh individual stakes winner for her sire El Roca, the son of Fastnet Rock who will stand his eighth season at Westbury Stud this year for a fee of $12,500+GST.

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