Rocket Spade wins the Group 2 Auckland Guineas at Ellerslie. Photo / Trish Dunell

Racing: Rocket Spade’s red glare delivers Group 2 Auckland Guineas repeat

January 1st 2021

Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott have gone back-to-back, scoring their second straight victory in the Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie.

The combination captured last year’s edition of the three-year-old feature with Dragon Leap, and today struck Guineas gold again 12 months later with Rocket Spade.

Making his first start since a close fifth behind Aegon in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in early November, Rocket Spade raced keenly but took up a comfortable position in seventh, one off the rail.

Rocket Spade swept to the front and went clear, beating the strong-finishing Jason Belltree by three-quarters of a length.

“He’s a classy animal,” jockey Craig Grylls said. “We got into a pretty good spot. He just wanted to throw his head around a little bit, but he was travelling so well.

“I didn’t want to get to the front too early, but he was just going so easily that I couldn’t really help it.

“He hasn’t raced since the 2000 Guineas, so for him to produce this performance over 1600m is a great training performance by Lance and Andrew. Being first-up, he’s going to have a lot of improvement in him, and he gives me the feel of a stayer,” added Grylls.

“This is really good for the owners, who won the same race last year with Dragon Leap,” O’Sullivan said.

“Hermitage [Thoroughbreds] have been great supporters of Wexford Stables for the last five years or so. We’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to the sales every year and buy a horse or two for them. It’s great when those horses come out and win nice races.”

The TAB reacted to the win by moving Rocket Spade into $8 third favouritism for the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March. The market is headed by Aegon and Brando, rated $6 chances.

There was no such luck for the Rocket Spade owner-trainer team in the next race on the card, the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m), in which Cha Siu Bao finished ninth after missing the start badly.

– NZ Racing Desk, NZ Herald