Kathy O’Hara commits to Rocket Tiger ahead of Country Champs

Kathy O’Hara and the Scott Spackman-trained Rocket Tiger will team up in Saturday’s Southern Districts Country Championship qualifier at Albury. Photo: Steve Hart Photographics.

The pride of Harden and Wagga will kick off his Country Championships campaign at Albury on Saturday with Rocket Tiger contesting the $150,000 Southern Districts qualifier.

The four-year-old, which is trained by Scott Spackman in Wagga, will have Kathy O’Hara on board, and connections will be hoping O’Hara can get the best out of Rocket Tiger over the 1400m journey.  

“I think it is outstanding mate; for Kathy to give up rides in town to travel to Albury and ride him, it tells you that he is going well,” Spackman said.

“It’s good to have her back on him, and she gave us a lot of feedback after his last start, and we have gone home and put a set of visors on him. 

“I don’t know if they have made too much difference yet in his work, but they will go on and hopefully straighten him up and make him focus a bit better on Saturday.”

The Cluster gelding that is out of Takook returned from a long spell in the 1100m Benchmark 78 Handicap at Royal Randwick on January 21, and found trouble for jockey Aaron Bullock, with the pair lucky not to fall after copping a big knock before finishing second last. 

Rocket Tiger backed up at Royal Randwick in the 1300m Benchmark 88 Handicap on February 11, and with O’Hara in the saddle, the pair raced on the pace and faded to finish sixth when beaten just 3.09 lengths by up-and-coming star, Think About It. 

“I was very excited after that run,” Spackman said. 

“Nothing on speed won all day and he battled on quite well for a second-up run. He needed the run, and I think he has come on a lot from it.”

It’s effectively a big drop back in class for Rocket Tiger when contesting the Class Five race at Albury, but he does meet some of the best up-and-coming gallopers in the Southern Districts when taking on the country-only qualifier.

While he didn’t want to come across too confident, Spackman is simply happy with how his star galloper is travelling.

“The other day, he was still hesitant of letting go after being poleaxed when first-up,” Spackman said. 

“As far as Saturday, all I can say is that I’m rapt with the horse and that I’m very happy with him.” 

Final fields for the Southern Districts qualifier will be released today and Rocket Tiger needs to finish in the top-two to qualify for the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 1.