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Teamwork lays foundation to execute Derby mission -Paul Vettise TDN AusNZ

A team approach to sourcing a Classic winner has delivered a dream result at just the third time of asking for those involved in the Hermitage Thoroughbreds-raced G1 New Zealand Derby winner Rocket Spade (Fastnet Rock).

The familiar colours of Hermitage’s Hong Kong-based Principal Eugene Chuang were carried to victory in Ellerslie’s Blue Riband event by rider Craig Grylls 12 months after Dragon Leap (Pierro) had found 2400 metres a touch beyond him.

Dragon Leap had won the two Group 2 lead-ups, the Auckland and Avondale Guineas, before he finished a gallant fourth in the 3-year-old feature and Rocket Spade sparked celebrations in three countries following his Derby success.

The O’Sullivan family’s Wexford Stables were major players with Lance co-training Rocket Spade and his brother Paul, successfully training in Hong Kong, their long-time friend Robbie Hewetson and Sydney bloodstock agent Andrew Williams also all involved in Hermitage purchases.

The quest to find a Derby winner began in 2015 with the purchase of a son of Smart Missile at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

“It’s been a great team effort and it all started with Cha Siu Bao. Hermitage was a client of Paul's in Hong Kong and asked us to buy a horse to run in a Derby,” O’Sullivan said.

Sydney beckons

With a Derby in the bag, Rocket Spade will cross the Tasman but with his program yet to be locked in.

“He has pulled up really well and he will go to Australia. We haven’t decided exactly what he might be running in yet and entered him in quite a few different races,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re keeping our options open and not leaning any particular way at the moment.”

Rocket Spade’s stablemate Force Of Will (NZ) (Power {GB}) will also be bound for Sydney provided the last-start G3 Desert Gold S. winner performs up to expectations over 1600 metres at Ellerslie this weekend.

“The plan is to run in the G1 Vinery S. and we are going to run her this Saturday in a special conditions maiden over a mile,” O’Sullivan said.

“She is owned by Sir Owen Glenn and I think she is still pretty untapped and certainly deserves her chance.

“The plan was to run in the G1 New Zealand Oaks, but she had a little setback with a bad blood and missed a race, so we elected to get her right and if she performs well on Saturday she will get her ticket to Sydney.”


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