Gold Rocks them again in John Dillon Stakes

Jan 26, 2019

Ellerton Zahra Racing’s grand old man Rock ‘N’ Gold notched his second black type win when he was simply too good for his rivals in the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield.

Rock ‘N’ Gold won his first stakes race when he prevailed in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight last year but the eight-year-old has shown a liking for the 1400m trip in recent runs.

Rock ‘N’ Gold raced on the speed in a strong Boxing Day win over the Caulfield 1400m course before he was solid again after a slow start when fifth in the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes over the same distance at Flemington.

Rock ‘N’ Gold began the John Dillon Stakes moderately, but leading rider Damian Lane decided to let the gelding roll forward to take up the running from the 1000m.

Lane rated Rock ‘N’ Gold perfectly midrace, which left the son of Rock Of Gibraltar with plenty in the tank to outsprint his rivals in the straight.

Co-trainer Mathew Ellerton said Lane’s early initiative was the key to Rock ‘N’ Gold’s latest win.

"I think Damian went to plan B," Ellerton, who trains Rock ‘N’ Gold in partnership with Simon Zahra, said.

"It wasn't our plan to lead but good jockeys sum it up well and Damian did that."

The John Dillon Stakes was Rock ‘N’ Gold’s ninth win in 53 starts but Ellerton said the honest performer still enjoyed racing and being in the stable but finding races for him could get harder after his latest success.

"He's a durable horse," Ellerton said.

"He's loving his racing and he enjoys his time in work.

"He'll go back up in the ratings now, so we'll just have to think about where he goes next. He might be a bit tough to place from here on in."

Rock ‘N’ Gold’s Caulfield win earned connections an $84,000 winner’s cheque, which took his stakes tally to more than $595,000.

Not bad for a $12,000 yearling!

Congratulations to Rock ‘N’ Gold’s owners and all involved with getting the wonderful performer to the races in such terrific order.