Roy Rocket readying for return
There's a definite feeling of spring in the air this week in Newmarket. Not only is the temperature rising significantly but Roy Rocket is now back in strong work preparing for a return to the racecourse.
Roy won three times in 2018 to bring his career tally of victories to nine – all at his beloved Brighton, of course. In December he was given the honour of the ROA Special Merit Award (Flat) for his achievements.
Now nine, he retains all his enthusiasm for the job and remains one of the more demanding rides in the stable. Roy is ridden daily by his breeder, trainer and co-owner John, who, at 52, really should be on a quiet hack but enjoys the daily challenege of channelling his mount's exuberance. The attached video shows Roy in action this morning on Newmarket's Al Bahathri gallop.
"I'm really pleased with Roy at the moment," said John. "He galloped this morning and is not far off being ready to run now. I'm hoping he will resume before the end of the winter, perhaps at Kempton, where his London-based owners Iris and Larry McCarthy love to go to see him race. After that it will be back to Brighton. He is always given such a warm welcome there and it really is a joy every time he runs. He could probably drive the horsebox there himself by now."
The horsebox and the stalls are two areas which have been a worry with Roy in the past. As a younger horse he used to get very agitated in the lorry on the way to the races. John has devised a method for travelling him on his own, with all partitions removed from the box so he has more freedom to move around, and he is now a much calmer traveller. Likewise at the start, though Roy always walks straight in, he doesn't like to be held in the stalls for any length of time. Having now passed two stalls tests he has permission from the stewards to be loaded last, a measure which not only is better for him but avoids the risk of him upsetting another runner next to him by rearing.
This year Beverley House Stables has welcomed the youngest member of Roy's family, The Simple Truth, who will race in the colours of a long-term friend and supporter of this yard, Tony Fordham. The two-year-old gelding is by Rajsaman, making him a full-brother to the treble Irish winner Rock On Dandy, who is now in training in France with Gavin Hernon. Other members of the family include the hugely consistent 10-time winner Dream Walker, as well as White Valiant, who won two bumpers for this stable before being sold to race in Jersey alongside his elder half-brother Grey Panel, a 15-time winner on the island and still in training at the age of 11. It's also worth keeping an eye out for another brother, Sheshoon Sonny, the only bay of the family, who is in training with Alan King and recently made a promising bumper debut. Their dam, Minnie's Mystery, is now 21 and is in foal to one of our favourite horses, the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner Dunaden.