John McKenzie is about to live his NZ Cup dream

By Duane Ranger

Rangiora’s John McKenzie is on the cusp of achieving every Kiwi breeder’s dream.

The owner of the North Canterbury-based Kelvin Home Holdings Limited, will have bred his first starter in a New Zealand Cup on Tuesday November 8.

Rock n Roll Doo safely arrived in NZ on October 13

That’s when Victorian pacer Rock N Roll Doo (Rock N Roll Heaven – Long Live Lana – In The Pocket)  will be looking to become just the third Australian owned pacer to win the New Zealand Cup in 35 years.

Arden Rooney (Kerryn Manning) and My Lightning Blue (Jim O’Sullivan) won the coveted staying test in 2015 and 1987 respectively.

Rock N Roll Doo won the Victoria Cup on Saturday and arrived in Auckland today.  He heads to Cran and Chrissie Dalgety’s on Saturday.

“It doesn’t get any more exciting than this. Even though I don’t own him anymore, he’s now with Brendan James and we have been good friends since we first started doing business back in 2011,” McKenzie said.

“I’m delighted for him,” he added.

His Burrumbeet trainer-driver Michael Stanley, said prior to the Victoria Cup that his New Zealand Cup plans didn’t depend on how Rock N Roll Doo went in the Victoria Cup. The win certainly didn’t harm and plans for the NZ trip!

“It will be good to get there nice and early for a race like the Ashburton Flying Stakes. If not, he’ll line up in the ‘Cup Trial’,” Stanley said.

McKenzie said Rock N Roll Doo went through the Christchurch Yearling Sales in 2019 and he was passed in and brought home.

“He was broken in by John Versteeg. He and Greg Hope liked him a lot. But I did a deal with my good mate (Brendan) and he was on the plane in early June 2019. He was a lovely black colt, and now that he’s rising five, he’s in the form of his life.

“I’d love to see him win the Cup. Brendan is so good at looking after them. It’s great to be in the Cup. To breed a Cup starter is what we all try to achieve. It gets you out of bed each morning to feed the next lot,” McKenzie said.

Rock N Roll Doo is in the form of his life at present. The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding has nailed back-to-back to back feature race wins in his last three starts.

On September 10 Rock N Roll Doo won the Group One $100,000 Caduceus Classic at Melton’s Tabcorp Park, and then 13 days later he nailed the  Group Two Kilmore Cup. His other Group victory came in the Group Two Paleface Adios Stakes on February 12, also at Melton.

“He’s earned his trip over here. His Victoria Cup win didn’t surprise me! He recorded his fastest mile of 1:50.6 was recorded in Group One Caduceus Classic two starts back,” McKenzie said.

Rock N Roll Doo has now won 12 of his 29 starts and placed in seven others ($440,349) since he made his debut second as a 2-year-old at Ballarat.

McKenzie said he got into the breed when he bought Rock N Roll Doo’s grand-dam Infante Elana off legendary Mid Canterbury breeders Keith and Bevan Grice in 2004.

“I did a deal with them and also bought their 1993 Soky’s Atom mare, Conchita. Tennis Ball was her best. He won 12 races.

“Infante Elana is a full sister to Conchita and they were born only one year apart. They are both out of the 1982 maiden mare Entrancing (Mark Lobell – Coo Doo).

“Long Live Lana, who won two races and is by In The Pocket, is the dam of Rock N Roll Doo. She has so far left us eight foals with Rock N Roll Doo being the sixth of them. She’s produced  five 2-year-old winners so far.

Foal five, Iolanta (Bettor’s Delight) won seven of her 31 starts and more than $170,000. She won the Group Two Tatlow Stakes in 2019, and placed in the Breeders Crown 2yo Breeders Crown Final, the Doug Hayes Gold Chalice, and the Cinderella Stakes.

“She’s empty at the moment and I’ll put her to either, Bettor’s Delight, Art Major, or Rock N Roll Heaven,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie’s Rock N Roll Doo has now developed into the best of Long Live Lana’s eight foals.

“In saying that her first foal, the 2011 Bettor’s Delight black mare, Delightful Lana and Iolanta were pretty good. Delightful Lana held two New Zealand records and also finished third in the New South Wales Oaks (2015) when they ran a 1:54.2 world record mile rate for the 2,400m mobile. She still the holds the New Zealand 2YO record for a 2600m mobile recorded at Timaru (3:14).

“She was a lovely mare who ran second in the NZ Yearling Sales Champs before she raced in Australia. She retired in 2016 the winner of 10 of her 29 starts and won more than $150,000 in stakes. Brendan (BFJ Bloodstock Trust) also bought her off me,” McKenzie said.

He said more recently Long Live Lana had left a 2020 Bettor’s Delight colt, which he also sold to James, and a 2-year-old Art Major colt named How Doo You Doo.

“We sold him privately and he’s been re-named Borella. He’s now with Tim Butt in Queensland and has had just two starts for a second on debut (September 13) and then won again at Albion Park a week later,” McKenzie said.

So, will the McKenzies be there on for the IRT New Zealand Cup?

“This is every breeder’s dream. I’ve been in this game long enough to see Hands Downs, Robalan Arapaho and Lord Module win the Cup.

“I’ve seen most of the Cups in between and I won’t be missing this one, and hopefully will get to see a few more yet,” McKenzie said.

Rewatch the Victoria Cup run here >>