Patience pays for Rock Face

While Danny O’Brien was opening up the chequebook in New Zealand for the Karaka Yearling Sales, it was a previous astute purchase by owner Denis O'Brien at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale with an excellent pedigree that stole the spotlight at Befair Park Sandown Hillside this afternoon.

Rock Face, a $300,000 purchase, displayed an exciting turn of foot on debut to win the $30,000 Burrabil Super Vobis 0-68 Handicap (1000m) for three-year-olds.

Settling close to the inside rail in fifth position, Rock Face gained a ideal passage through the field around the home bend to be only a length off the lead with 300m to go.

When jockey James Winks asked for the supreme effort from Rock Face, the son Encosta De Lago let down with a short spurt of speed to strike the front before appearing to peak on his effort and then rally again to stave off the challenge of Off The Planet.

Rock Face ($2-$3.30) defeated Off The Planet ($2.70-$3 fav) by a long neck with Womby Princess ($4-$4.20) a further three and a quarter lengths away in third.

The Lee Freedman-trained Gauteng ($3.80-$4) was never in contention settling at the rear of the field only to finish fourth, just a fraction under seven lengths from the winner.

Assistant trainer Gerard Tesoriero suggested it has been an agonising wait to see the half-brother to Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Stakes (1200m) winner Fave Value at the racetrack.

“We’ve taken our time with this horse, he’s had a few hiccups as a two-year-old so we finally got him to the races and shown us he is worth the wait,” Tesoriero said.

“He’s still obviously learning, it looked like he wanted to wander when he was on the inside all on his own but James (Winks) got stuck into him that last 100m and he stuck his head out."

For Winks, it was his first winner in the metropolitan since returning to ride in Melbourne from a brief yet fruitful stint in Hong Kong.

“It’s taken a bit longer than what I would have liked but its good to finally get one,” Winks said.

Rock Face is by Encosta De Lago out of Polish Patriot mare Freckled Face, who won all four of her races at either Eagle Farm or Doomben as a filly.

Aside from producing Face Value, she has also produced the stakes placed Face Of The Earth and multiple winner Rokocoko, and her broodmare record now further improves to six horses to race for six winners - including five city winners.

Rokocoko was formerly trained by Mathew Ellerton before being sold to Western Australia.

Rokocoko, during his stint with Ellerton, won a non-stakes race over the 2005 Melbourne Cup Carnival, the $100,000 Chubb Plate (1400m) for four and five-year-olds on Cup Day.

Rock Face's win was the first of a double for O'Brien as Midnight Wine made two on end in the final event on the card.

The metro double was O'Brien's third in the past fortnight and he now sits a clear second - with 28 winners - on the premiership table.

Story & Photo by Carl Di Iorio of Virtual Form Guide, to view full story click here