“DON’T write off the old fella,” trainer Joanne Hardy said about Rockford Bay, who is heading into tomorrow’s $20,000 Express Examiner Casino Cup (1400m).
The 10-year-old, a former crock with two bowed front tendons and who suffered a rare leg infection earlier this year, is jumping out of his skin in readiness for the annual feature.
Coffs Harbour-based Hardy, the daughter of Trevor Hardy, believes the gelding is acting and feeling like a four-year-old.
“Indications are he is very well within himself,” Hardy said.
“After the Coffs Cup the old fella came back to our property rearing, squealing and prancing around like a four-year-old.
“That’s what made up our minds to run Sunday.”
Rockford Bay has been with Hardy for about 18 months and is currently raced on lease by a local syndicate.
“Last time up he just had no luck,” Hardy maintained.
“Kept getting held up, not much went right.
“This campaign we set him for the Coffs Harbour Cup. It was a bit of a rushed preparation but he didn’t disappoint, finishing sixth.
“In February he got a leg infection. It took about three months to get him right. His whole leg blew up, he was treated with heavy antibiotics. The vet said it was a rare type of infection.
“At one stage we thought we were going to lose him but eventually, he came right.
“Second up he scored a real good win at Ballina (July 22). All day the winners were on pace yet Rockford Bay was able to get up on the line. He got cluttered up coming to the turn but still motored home.
“On a fast pace, he can get home strongly.”
The Ballina win was Rockford Bay’s first for the stable.
The gelding’s progress since Coffs on August 4 has delighted Hardy.
“As a horse that’s done both suspensoryies I don’t do much with him on the track,” she added.
“We use a treadmill at home and plenty of beach work. I reckon he’s going better now than ever. I’m very happy with him.
“With the pace on, I think he’ll be right in the finish provided he handles Casino for the first time.”