Rocket Man progressing well

Champion sprinter Rocket Man showed he is getting close to a return to the racetrack with a barrier trial victory on Thursday morning.

Ridden by Barend Vorster, Rocket Man breezed home in the 1000m hit-out, scoring by five-and-a-quarter lengths from Hot Gold (Steven King) in a time of 1.01.49 secs.

Rocket Man had a distinct edge in class over his rivals and jumped a half-length in front of the pack before being three lengths clear, under a tight hold, coming off the back straight. 

Rocket Man and Barend Vorster before their 1000m barrier trial on Thursday, picture Singapore Turf Club

He held a comfortable margin turning for home before Vorster gave him a bit of a shake-up over the final 200m of the trial.

It was Rocket Man’s second trial back from an injury enforced lay-off and trainer Patrick Shaw was delighted with the hit-out.

The now seven-year-old hasn’t raced since winning a fourth straight Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1200m last April. He was then preparing for a title defence of the International Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint last May when he was withdrawn in the lead-up to the race suffering a swollen left front medial suspensory ligament.

Shaw said Rocket Man would require another barrier trial before he was ready to make his return to the racetrack which he hopes will be in a $125,000 Kranji Stakes A over 1200m on the Polytrack on March 3.

After that the son of Viscount is likely to head to Dubai to attempt another victory in the US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen over 1200m at Meydan on March 30.

Rocket Man has trimmed down since his first barrier trial on January 24 and Shaw said Thursday’s trial victory would have the gelding closer to his ideal racing weight.

“We’ve given him some canters and pacework since his last trial,” said Shaw.

“We can’t really nail him down just yet but the weight is coming off. He was down to 485kg on Wednesday morning and this trial will tighten him up a bit more.

“He’s made improvement from his last trial and with some more work under him and another trial he’ll be near his fighting weight.

“I’ve got a Kranji Stakes A in mind for him on March 3, but it’s all up to him. If I think he’s fit enough to run then he will and after that it will be off to Dubai, but only if he’s 100% right.”

Vorster said Rocket Man was slowly getting back to peak fitness after a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

He added that he was really happy with how the gelding was moving in the trial.

“He stretched out really nicely in the straight when I asked him for a bit of an effort,” said Vorster.

“I’m really happy with how he’s moving and he’s doing it all so comfortably.

“He’s picking it up step by step and he’s at a level now where he’s got to get a bit sharper.

“Being a bit older he’s very relaxed but I’m sure when it comes down to business he’ll switch himself on.”