Johnny Rocker, left, runs an impressive second to Imperatriz in the William Reid Stakes at The Valley. (Image: Racing Photos)

Rocker pushes Imperatriz

He gave Imperatriz a whopping 44 ratings points and two kilograms in weight, but Johnny Rocker went within a neck of one of racing’s great boilovers when he pushed Imperatriz to a neck in Saturday’s Group 1 William Reid Stakes at The Valley.

The former Queensland sprinter, who boasted a domestic rating of just 75, was sent out a despised $71 outsider to Imperatriz’s quote of $1.70, but turned in the run of his career to set-up a shot at more autumn feature sprints in either Adelaide or Sydney.

“I guess you’ve got to be happy,” Flemington trainer Nick Ryan said. “I’ve run a lot of seconds in G1s and that’s another one.

“I am not surprised. The horse, we have a big opinion of and we came here very calm today knowing that he’d run well – that well I’m not so sure – but I spoke to the boys before the race and said that if it wasn’t today, it will be another day.

“He’ll get a ratings boost out of that and we’ve got options.

“Credit to the owners. They wanted to shoot for the stars and shoot for the stars we did today. There’s the Goodwood (Adelaide) and Sydney. We’ll get him to the beach in the morning and we’ll talk Monday.

“If we’d run in an 84 (benchmark) or next week at Flemington and win that, we’d still be pushing to get into those sort of races, so we’ve rolled the dice today and it’s paid off and hopefully I can repay the owners having faith in me.”

Ryan said the horse’s form in much weaker class was strong, but he has an inkling he could rise to the top.

“He was sick second-up at Caulfield, and first-up they ran a lightning time behind Mornington Glory and it was his first run in 12 months,” Ryan said.

“He trialed up the straight the other day before he won here with the Newmarket horses, and he was climbing all over their backs so I wasn’t shy in taking them on.”