It has been a case of so near yet so far for El Roca this autumn and he again has things stacked against him in the Doncaster Mile.
Trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young brought the colt to Sydney from New Zealand in February full of hope he could make up for an unlucky fifth in the Caulfield Guineas.
El Roca beat Dissident to win the Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) surprising Busuttin by his performance on the slow track.
After a misinterpretation of the rules regarding pre-raceday treatment, Busuttin had to alter El Roca’s program when stewards withdrew him from the Hobartville Stakes, won by Dissident.
He took on the older horses in the Liverpool City Cup and ran second to Terravista and was then beaten a short head by Dissident in the Randwick Guineas.
His third in the weight-for-age George Ryder Stakes behind Irish visitor Gordon Lord Byron and the minimum weight in the Doncaster convinced Busuttin to run in the Mile in preference to the 1200 metres of the TJ Smith Stakes.
Barrier 17 has dented the trainer’s confidence but El Roca has managed to handle adversity so far.
“It is what it is,” Busuttin said.
“I was hoping he would be able to take a sit and get a suck run but now I will leave it to Glen Boss.
“He’s had bad gates since he’s been here and been beaten in photo finishes.
“I can’t fault him. He has done a great job and has come through all his runs well.
“His work is super and I’ve done my best.”
Boss has won five Doncasters and has the exceptional record of three victories on three-year-olds – Racing To Win (2006), Haradasun (2007) and Triple Honour (2008).
El Roca has 51.5kg after weights were raised 1.5kg and is on the fourth line of betting at $13, easing from $11 after the draw.
Favourite Messene has also drifted from $3.50 to $4 after coming up with gate 18 while Doncaster Prelude winner Weary has firmed to $6.50 despite his awkward gate in 13.
A French import trained by Chris Waller, Weary has had three starts in Australia including a second to Messene in the Ajax Stakes followed by his win in Saturday’s Prelude.
As much as $71 was offered in early Doncaster markets.