No one has to tell Chris Bakker that Rock Hero will have to do it the hard way if the stallion is to become successful in the breeding industry.
Bakker stands Rock Hero at his Lauriston Park farm at Euroa and is confident that with some luck, perhaps plenty of it, that the son of Fastnet Rock will make his mark felt.
The nine-year-old, who is out of top performing Galileo mare, Gallant Tess, produced his first winner when three year-old filly Bellx broke her maiden status over 1500m at Mornington.
It was the perfect way for Bakker to kick-off the New Year and he hopes more people will start to take notice of his stallion that won the Listed Dulcify Quality (1600m) at Randwick in 2013. From his nine starts he also finished second in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield
“It was a good win by the filly and hopefully there are many more to come,” Bakker said.
“Rock Hero erHeorserves limited numbers every year because he is not a multi Group 1 winner or we don’t stand at one of the major farms and he is not backed by massive people.
“It’s always hard, but genetic wise, if he comes out and becomes a champion everyone will say of course, look at that one by Fastnet Rock out of a Galileo mare.
“He is a beautiful horse and has got a great temperament, upgrades his mares and he is going to have to do it the hard way, but that’s all right.”
Bakker believes his stallion gives people a great opportunity to breed a nice horse, so as he says, they can play racing the game without spending a fortune.
He said they deliberately set Rock Hero’s service fee at a low rate of $4950 because they know exactly where they must come from.
“We are not complete fools and know we have got to basically go against the odds, but we obviously have the filly that just won at Mornington the other day and the way she went there is plenty of upside,” Bakker said.
“She went six weeks in between runs and we were actually aiming for more of a 1300m race and if it wasn’t for races being called off because of the smoke or rock-hard tracks or whatever it was, we probably would have went at 1300m and maybe we would still be looking for our first win,” he said.
Bakker said Rock Hero was bred to produce horses at 1600m-plus and that’s what he believes they saw in Bellx who could be aimed for bigger things.
“The filly pulled up well and she will go again and is maybe a bit of an outside chance of heading down to the Tasmanian Oaks or something,’’ he said.
“You have to be in it to win it and if you don’t have a plan, you don’t get there.
“We’d probably have her up too long for the Australasian Oaks, but then we have Angel Rock that is another Rock Hero that has already raced and was competitive as a two-year-old at stakes level.
“So, she will probably be aimed at those races and she has come back looking great.”
Bakker said that if things panned out his way over the next couple of months, he could look like a genius and be in for a busy breeding season.
He said Rock Hero served about a dozen mares last season and his oldest progeny are now three-year-olds which is when he expects them to start coming under notice.
“With what we are saw with Bellx is exactly what we expected around this time,’’ Bakker said.
“They are not two-year-olds, they are not three-year-olds but that are about from now onwards and they should be still going when they are five, six and seven.
“Basically, for us and even though you have to be patient, his progeny have shown they have ability but we still have to be patient to get them up to this stage of maturity before we can see them get there and that has been the case.
“It’s pretty much like most stallions and doesn’t matter if you haven’t much out there or you have hundreds, at the end of the day they are not generally two year-olds.”
Bakker always had his eye on Rock Hero as a stallion because he loved his breeding and decided to act when he was retired from racing towards the end of 2014.
“Basically, I jumped in the car and drove up to Sydney and spoke to John Cordina (owner) and got the deal done,” he said.
“And that’s pretty much it and like I said, I can’t compete on Group 1 horses but target something that you believe in and he is an athlete and you look at him and say gee, he looks like a racehorse, other than some horses that we tend to gravitate towards.
“So, I knew I could never compete against that but I can compete against trying to breed an athlete and maybe then we get lucky.”
Bakker said Gallant Tess was a great race mare and in Australian conditions where she achieved tremendous success and rolled up week after week into Group 2 and Group 1 races and was competitive at the top end for a long time.
“And hopefully you see a little bit of that come through with some of these horses as they get older and if a Fastnet Rock in your progeny doesn’t help either, then throw in Galileo. A Fastnet Rock/Galileo cross is probably one of the hottest crosses in the world.
“He is smashing looking horse and has got a great temperament which he throws back into his foals.
“And no disrespect to people who have bought mares to him, but when you are dealing with less numbers and owner breeders and breed-to-race type of people, the mares come in all different shapes and sizes. More so than when you are at the top end and they are great race mares and they are this and that. Generally there is a good line through them straight away.
“But where we come from, they are all up and down everywhere.”
Bakker said it was a case of Rock Hero having to upgrade the mares he serves.
He said Rock Hero is putting his stamp on what he produces and it doesn’t matter what type of mare is put to him.
“In the next six to 12 months hopefully I will be proven right or wrong, but what is coming through we like them and we are quietly optimistic about it.”
With numbers and quality, Bakker concedes the task could seem “near impossible” but he is also confident of a lucky break.
Bakker said they stood Desert King toward the end of his career but the 25 year-old stallion is now retired and living a life of leisure on their farm.
“Even though we got him at the end of our breeding time it helped start us a bit,” Bakke said.
“We just keep it very simple, low key and if we can beat the odds by doing it that way then that’s fine.”
Bakker said the Hayes and Dabernig training team currently had about 10 Rock Hero’s at their Euroa stables from different owners and it hadn’t been a deliberate ploy but had just worked out that way.
And he says he is probably gives everyone a good chance by having the horses in such a top stable.
Bakker said they believe they have a couple that are above average but it doesn’t mean anything unless they win.
He said it was hard to take the horses to the sales and expect a return on them and he has kept shares in several of Rock Hero’s progeny and enjoys it for what it is and hopefully they’ll all get a little bit luck.
Lauriston Park continues to offer agistment, foaling down, weaning and sales preparation.