Breeders Challenge: Rockmemama on track early for return to defend crown

Sawyers Gully trainer Darryl Thomas hopes Big Abraxas can cap a satisfying week for his stable with success at Menangle Park on Saturday night.

BACK: Darryl Thomas and Rockmemama. Picture: www.ashleabrennanphotography.com

BACK: Darryl Thomas and Rockmemama. Picture: www.ashleabrennanphotography.com

Thomas’ Newcastle horse of the year, Rockmemama, returned at trials Wednesday night, winning in 1:56:6. It was her first public hit-out since claiming the group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge (3YO fillies) last June. At Newcastle on Saturday night, the Clayton Harmey-trained Rock Till Ya Drop will shoot for seven consecutive wins.

Rock Till Ya Drop is in the sixth on the 10-race program.

Thomas, meanwhile, will have Todd McCarthy driving Big Abraxas in the eighth at Menangle.

Big Abraxas was originally trained in Australia by Thomas before heading to Queensland last year.

He returned to Thomas six weeks ago and was a close second at Maitland last Saturday night. He has drawn the inside of the second line at Menangle.

“He’ll need a lot of luck,” Thomas said.

“He’s an older horse coming back from Queensland. His work is OK and his run was good the other night at Maitland, although I was a little disappointed.

“He needs to lift, but a mile is a much better trip for him and he’s drawn well. He’s going to be on the fence somewhere, either behind the leader of three back somewhere.”

Thomas, who also trains greyhounds and has 12 of them in work, has only Big Abraxas and Rockmemama in his pacing team.

He was set to retire Rockmemama, which overcame a raft of injury troubles to hand him a first group 1 victory last year. However, Thomas said the other owners, his parents, wanted to give her another shot at racing.

“They said just give her a go and if at any stage she looks in any doubt of not returning to her form or getting injured again, we’ll pull the plug,” he said.

“She’s had a lot of work and been in it for 22, 23 weeks.

“The good spell has done her a lot of good. Her legs looked a lot better, we got them rescanned and they look good, and she’s grown, so we thought we’d give her another crack.

“It’s just the start of her preparation and hopefully she can stand up.

“We’ve taken her along pretty steady and she had to do a bit the other night so it’s good to see she’s getting back to where she was.”

Thomas is now eyeing the four-year-old NSW Breeders Challenge series in June and a return to racing at Newcastle on April 29 with Rockmemama.

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