South Auckland trainer Grant Cooksley has little doubt that Blackrocksdetox can measure up to the best of his age but expects the Rip Van Winkle three-year-old to take improvement from his first-up run at Ellerslie on Saturday.
Cooksley will produce Blackrocksdetox for the first time on raceday in Saturday’s Bill Sattler Memorial (1300m) having joined Bruce Wallace in partnership since the gelding’s most recent appearance, an eighth placing in last season’s Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie.
“He’s going along all right. He trialled up nicely and he’s improved since the trial too, though he’ll improve even further with Saturday’s run under his belt,” Cooksley said.
“I didn’t have much to do with him last preparation but he gives me the impression he’ll make a nice miler and he could get even further.”
Blackrocksdetox is one of four maidens in the nine-horse field for the set-weights and penalties event but Cooksley was buoyed by a comfortable trial win at Avondale earlier this month under regular rider Vinnie Colgan.
“He’s coming up really nicely. This is an even field but he’s already beaten Flaunting home by 10 lengths in the Karaka Million and I’d say he’s right up to that class,” Cooksley said.
“We’ll see how he comes through Saturday but we’ll look at the three-year-old features coming up in the north and later on look at the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.”
Cooksley and Wallace have five entries at Ellerslie, with Ronchi set to resume in the Auckland Co-op Taxis 1200 and last-start Ruakaka winner One Kotukustreet tackling the Otakiri Reserve 1200 but Church Road and Secret Ambition were uncertain to resume in the last race.
“Ronchi will definitely run. He’ll go a good race but he’ll probably need this one. He trialled well. It will depend on how he goes on Saturday what we look at next for him.”
A world-class jockey at his prime, Cooksley is relishing his new role as a trainer and enjoying an excellent start to the season with four wins from 11 runners this term.