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On The Rocks back to winning form

Classy customer On the Rocks is on the road to defending his Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) title after a comprehensive fresh-up performance in the New World Summer Cup (1400m) at Tauranga.

Off the scene and gelded since contesting the Gr.1 Doomben Cup (2000m) and Gr.2 O'Shea Stakes (2200m) in Brisbane during a disappointing Queensland winter campaign, On The Rocks  went into Thursday's contest off the back of an exhibition gallop with stablemate Harlech at Matamata a fortnight ago.

Co-trainer Pam Gerard had expressed confidence in his chances before the race as he was facing only two rivals, although he was carrying clear topweight of 61.5kgs in the contest that was to serve as a lead-up to the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 18.

Content to sit pat as the pace unfolded, rider Michael McNab let On the Rocks slide around to a challenging position entering the straight and he was simply too good in winning stylishly by three-quarters of a length.

"He is class," McNab said.

"I probably ended up getting there (front) too soon on him, but under 61.5kgs, it was a good effort.

"He's a really nice horse and I think he's up to the goals they have for him.

"I've had a bit to do with him, riding his work and got to know him and he rates himself.

"He knows he's a good horse and when he gets to the mile at Trentham, against good horses and off a good tempo, he should unleash really well."

Gerard was also pleased to see the Alamosa gelding put plenty of dash into the performance.

"I guess he had to do that today, with what he's got coming up and it's great to see him back," Gerard said.

"He just floated along behind them and he's got a real turn of foot.

"He gives the impression that he's not doing anything and when Michael's (McNab) ridden him in his track work he feels like he's going nowhere, but he's pretty quick when he puts the pedal down.

"He'll go to the Thorndon Mile at Trentham, and I know he didn't go that well there last year but the track was a bit off. And, that should lead in nicely to the Herbie Dyke (Gr.1, 1 1⁄4 m) which is what we've been aiming him at all season."

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