If you ask Rocky Simonetta what he thinks of his eight-year-old galloper, Prima Stella, the first thing he will tell you is how tough of a competitor the Redoute’s Show gelding is.
After lobbing in behind the early leaders in the 1412m event, veteran hoop Jon Grisedale allowed the Kempsey galloper to find the front on the home straight, only to find himself in a battle, even falling behind Northern Wilderose with a furlong to go, before kicking to win the race in the final 50 metres.
“He is a tough little horse. I would love to have four or five just like him,” Simonetta said.
“He hung a little bit, every day in his track work, he follows the fence and that is where he wanted to be, but one of the horses got up on the inside, and when he saw him, he straightened and found the front again – that is just the kind of horse he is.”
Connections also scored good odds with the bookies, with Prima Stella opening $8 before their charge was backed into $5.50 by start time.
“We were confident and when I looked at the $8, I couldn’t believe my eyes, but I missed it, so I took the $7,” Simonetta said.
“I thought he would a 3/1 chance on paper, there was nothing in the race that could beat him, and we were all tickled pink.”
Prima Stella’s victory in the Taree feature means Simonetta has now won the race in consecutive years after claiming the 2020 edition with Mister McIlroy, who was also guided to the winning post by Jon Grisedale.
“I won last year with Mr McIlroy – I’ve now won it two years in a row,” Simonetta said.
“It’s a nice race to target and it suits those good little country cup horses.”
Friday’s win also highlights a terrific preparation for Simonetta’s galloper, with Prima Stella returning from a good spell in June, running third at Coffs Harbour before finishing second in both the Maclean Cup (Grafton) and Sawtell Cup (Coffs Harbour).
In his previous start, Prima Stella won the Casino Cup before taking out the Hopkins Livermore Cup and now connections are eyeing more feature race success.
“Last prep, he was going okay, but this time, we have backed off his work a little, kept him happy and he is flying,” Simonetta said.
“Next up will be the Hastings Cup at Port Macquarie. He should be suited to that race.”
For full Taree results, click here.