Johnny Rocker

Johnny Rocker winning at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)

Stumer's bucks night promise

As can be the case with some good bucks parties, there are bits and pieces Jamie Stumer doesn't remember that well about his pre-marriage boys' night in Melbourne in the spring of 2016.

What he does remember distinctly is meeting young horseman Nick Ryan at Crown Casino and promising to send him a fast horse to train.

A man of his word, the Gold Coast-based breeder and owner waited several years to find the right horse to campaign in Melbourne, but thinks he's found it in the form of Johnny Rocker, who will be thrown into racing's deep end as a $71 chance in Saturday's Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.

A precocious but injury plagued youngster who won a Stakes race in Queensland as a two-year-old before injury hit, Johnny Rocker joined Ryan's Flemington stable prior to a summer campaign that has yielded victory in The Valley's Summer Sprint Final (1200m) and a narrow placing behind subsequent G1 performer Mornington Glory.

Stumer said Saturday's assignment, which comes after the four-year-old missed a start in both the Oakleigh Plate and the Galaxy, is an opportunity to lift his rating and ensure he can get a start in The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide.

"I actually met Nick through a mate of mine at my bucks party seven years ago and I said to him that I would send him a really good horse one day," Stumer said.

"I don't know if Nick can remember it to be honest.

"Nick was just starting training then and I've always just followed Nick since then.

"We think this guy is a Group horse, so we sent him down to Nick and basically told him that we want him to aim for the stars and come backwards if he's not up to it.

"Nick had him cherry ripe first-up against Mornington Glory but unfortunately that horse ran out of his skin - he's gone on and run third in a Group 1.

"We thought we'd win that day and Nick's plan was to get him into an Oakleigh Plate with a light weight, but that didn't happen.

"We were very confident he would win at The Valley and he did.

"We wanted to run in The Galaxy, but we didn't get a start, so that's the only reason we're running in the William Reid.

"We didn't want to be taking on Imperatriz because we don't think we can beat her at weight-for-age, but we do think we can win The Goodwood with the horse and we have to get his rating up.

"If he ran third or fourth, we'd be over the moon."

WATCH: Johnny Rocker's last-start Valley win

Stumer's dream is that Johnny Rocker can elevate himself alongside the best horse he's ever raced, Albert The Fat, as a G1 winner.

It was his association with Albert The Fat, a winner of the G1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and G1 BTC Cup (1200m), that prompted Stumer to purchase his close relation Margene.

A daughter of Magic Albert that showed promise on the racetrack, Margene was mated to several stallions without much joy for Stumer and his partners.

But the decision to send the mare to then first-season sire Jukebox has proved an inspired move.

While Jukebox's career at stud is yet to take off, Johnny Rocker has been the flagbearer of his first crop thanks to his win in the 2022 Oxlade Stakes at Eagle Farm.

"We bought Albert The Fat as a young horse and not all of the owners but a lot of the owners are now in Johnny Rocker," he said.

"I bought Albert The Fat's three-quarter sister Margene, who is the same of Johnny Rocker.

"She looked like she was going to be a pretty good racehorse - I think she had seven starts and might have won four races - but unfortunately she bowed a tendon in trackwork and never raced again.

"We haven't had a lot of luck breeding with her and she passed when she got bitten by a snake after she delivered Johnny Rocker.

"From his first-ever gallop, Barry Lockwood was telling me that I had a good one.

"The breaker said the same thing - we were going to put him through the ready-to-run sale, but the breaker called me and told me not to sell him because we'd win more on the track with him than what we'd get at the sale."