Roch ‘N’ Horse knocks over punters’ favourite Nature Strip in sprint

Roch ‘N’ Horse showed her brilliance up the Flemington straight to upset champion sprinter Nature Strip in the Darley Champions Sprint, giving trainer Mike Moroney and jockey Jamie Mott group one success on the final day of the carnival.

It was a tough win from the mare who kept fighting once she put her nose in front and although Nature Strip ran a brave second after looking unlikely to run a place at the 100-metre mark he could not catch her.

Roch ‘N’ Horse already had a Newmarket Handicap up the straight next to her name but defeating Nature Strip puts her into another class.

Sprint finish: Roch ‘N’ Horse, ridden by Jamie Mott, won the Darley Champions Sprint. Credit:Brett Holburt, Racing Photos

“She’s a very good mare, and we knew it was no fluke, the Newmarket, and we were happy to take them on today,” Moroney said.

Mott was excited having landed the ride after Patrick Moloney was suspended for his ride on Melbourne Cup runner-up Emissary, who Moroney also trained.

“Unbelievable. This is truly what dreams are made of. I was lucky enough to get my first group one only a month ago and to think I’m here on final day going past Nature Strip, I can’t believe it,” Moloney said.

Nature Strip’s trainer Chris Waller was proud of the eight-year-old’s fight, noting that the quality of competition meant he was unable to burn the field off at the 300m mark as he has in many of his nine group one wins.

The second placing was only the ninth time Nature Strip has run a place in his 42 starts, having won 22 of them.

“He doesn’t have too many seconds. It’s either break their hearts or sometimes run fourth to sixth,” Waller said. “It was a different set-up today. They never really let him get away and do his thing. They kept him honest the whole way.”

McDonald – who was chasing his ninth win for the week – said the pressure was maintained the whole race on Nature Strip, and he was happy with the fight he showed when he looked like finishing midfield.

Waller said Roch ‘N’ Horse was “no slouch” and rated Nature Strip’s run up there with one of his better ones, with his future dependent on how he pulls up.

“We’ll let the horse do the talking. We have had a great ride with him. If it is too much, it is too much, who knows? He will tell us. There is no sign of that,” Waller said.

Baller, the winner of the Bobbie Lewis Quality, down the straight ran third while Giga Kick experienced defeat for the first time but lost no admirers running a flashing fifth, just falling short of Levante who ran up to his New Zealand form.

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