Rocky's on the road to the show ring

Handsome black stallion Lonhro is known for siring many champion racehorses, including Pierro, Denman and Impending, who are at stud themselves now. His ability to produce quality offspring whose competition careers span further than their time on the racetrack is impressive, too.

One of those is Lonrockstar, better known as Rocky. The nine-year-old gelding won just shy of $250,000 during a 38-start career for trainer John Sadler that included five wins and a Listed placing.

When the time came for Rocky to retire, his owners and trainer were adamant he needed the very best home. Fortunately, a local equestrian had already spotted him on the track, as new owner Nicole Wight recalled.

“Rocky, or Lannister as he will be known in the show ring, came into my life in April 2017 after I received a phone call from Paul Burslem,” Wight said. “Paul and I have known each other for over 20 years, in and out of the horse industry.

“Paul called me and said, ‘I’ve seen this horse, Lonrockstar. I’m at Sandown and Tom Sadler has just trotted him past me. Wow, he’s going to make a super show hack—oh, and he’s by Lohnro.’ “It didn’t take me long to reply, yes please.”

When the owners had ensured Wight would be the ideal fit for Rocky their partnership began to blossom.

“After I picked him up from Trudi Christie, who had been looking after him, he had a sixmonth let-down spell at a beautiful property in Mt Eliza where he could just relax and be a horse. “In this time his personality started to develop. Rocky’s favourite thing, other than food is sleeping flat out like he’s dead on the ground. He has even been known to snore!”

Ensuring he had let down properly, Wight placed him at Shadowbrook, a property with a water-walker and pre-training facility in the peaceful surrounds of the Mornington Peninsula, to start his rehab/training phase.

“Rocky absolutely loved it, he would splash around like a toddler in a bath,” Wight said.

After four months on the waterwalker, and with consistent treatment from equine physio Nerissa Eastland Wheal, Rocky went to the next stage, driving and lunging.

The groundwork needed to be established before he was ridden, which Wight believes makes the transition easier. “Eventually I was happy with his acceptance of the process, so I threw the leg over,” she said.

After six months at Shadowbrook it was time to bring him home to the show stables of Wight’s friends, the Barrington family, who have shown horses for over 20 years on the Mornington Peninsula.

Rocky’s work and show prep schedule increased as his first outing loomed, and he made his debut at the Sunbury Agricultural Show in October.

“Rocky was a delight, handling everything from the dyeing of his tail, to the clipping and the makeup, all in his stride. I couldn’t have been happier with him or prouder of my retraining efforts.”

Under the guidance of show rider Steph Barrington, Rocky won his open hack class and carried Steph beautifully. It was a stunning combination.

Rocky will head towards the Show Hack Council Extravaganza Show at the end of November at Werribee Park. Wight plans to continue Rocky’s career as a show horse and hopes he will scale lofty heights.

“My plans with him are that when I relocate to Echuca, to be with my non-horsey yet rather understanding partner, Rocky will come with me and have a ‘river change’, she said. “He will continue to be campaigned from my base up there. I can’t wait.”