Rockford puts GAP on hold

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By David Brasch

BACK in January, Bob Patching rang Beaudesert (Qld) vet Leonie Finster asking her to come check out a dog on its way to the adoption program.

That dog is Rockford (Cosmic Rumble-Le Sirenuse), who was bred and is owned by Toni Graham and her husband Mark. He\’d been something special for them when trained by the late Glen Smith who took him to a spot in the Group 2 Qld Derby.

Along the way he picked up 16 wins and $52,000 in stakes.

Rockford broke his hock in the catching pen after winning a heat of the Rockhampton Cup in 2019.

It was right at the centre of Glen Smith\’s cancer problems which would eventually take Glen\’s life not long after.

\”Two vets looked at Rockford\’s injury and both believed he would struggle to get back to the racetrack,\” said Mark Graham.

To relieve the burden on Glen\’s partner Tricia Fuller, Rockford was moved to Bob Patching\’s property at Buccan, south of Brisbane.

\”I was getting him all ready for GAP and asked Leonie to have a look at him for me. Give him the all clear to enter the program,\” said Bob.

But when Leonie took a look at the dog\’s injury she persuaded Bob and the Grahams to give him another try.

\”Leonie checked out the leg, he was showing no lameness at the time, and she said she had a bit of success with injuries like that in the past,\” said Bob. \”We gave it a try and here we are.\”

‘Here we are’ is a 30.27 victory at Albion Park in June in a 520m Masters on a Thursday night.

Patching admits that if it was not for Leonie Finster, Rockford would have been sitting on someone\’s couch as a retiree.

Patching said the return to racing was a very, very slow process for Rockford.

\”He started off at 150 metres, then up a bit further and so on,\” he said. \”In April this year, 11 months after he had broken his hock, he got back to the track, but he needed some racing to get him fit again.

The Albion Park victory in June was part of a race-to-race winning double for the Grahams who won the next with Mahogany Row, a half brother by Barcia Bale to Rockford, who had made a remarkable recovery after breaking a leg as a five-month old pup.

Allan Oshyer prepares Mahogany Row a highly promising young stayer.

For Toni and Mark Graham the victory by Rockford was momentous.

\”We bred and raced the mother Le Sirenuse and she made the final of the Brisbane Cup and Ipswich Cup,\” said Mark. \”We have a 10-month-old litter by Fabregas from her being reared by Brad Northfield.\”

Le Sirenuse spends her life on Bob Patching\’s couch at his Buccan property.

\”She\’s been a special producer for us with her two litters winning almost 110 races and $300,000,\” said Mark. \”And the Barcia Bale litter turned two in March.\”

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