January 30, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

Chris and Ed Roque - Pony racing is in their blood


By James [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Pony racing is all about breeding. For the fastest horses, racing is in their blood. They are born to go fast.

The same could be said of the drivers after father-and-son Ed and Chris Roque broke two track records on the same day last weekend.

The Roques are one of many pony-racing families with a network of cousins and relatives almost as complex as the bloodlines of the meticulously bred horses they drive around the Vesey Street track.

"It's in the family, it's in the blood.

"Everybody is into horses - all the relatives. If you go to the pony races nine times out of ten you are up against your cousins," said Chris Roque, who set the fastest time for a 2-year-old since records began when he drove Casmir Camotion to victory last Saturday.

As if to emphasise the point his father, a seasoned veteran of the pony-racing circuit, repeated the feat, breaking the record for a 4-year-old with GV Crystal Ball on the same day.

He believes the horse has a big chance in the Champion of Champions season finale in February, which pits the 12 fastest horses against each other.

But neither Ed nor Chris is taking anything for granted about the record times.

"It's been a fast year. There's another couple of ponies out there that could still break these records," said Roque senior.

But he said GV Crystal Ball was flying right now and after a couple of injury-hit seasons was making up for lost time on the track.

"He's just learning how to go fast. It's bred in him to want to run. I carry a whip, but I just need to nudge him and he'll go. He wants to run because it's in his blood."

Chris said his record-breaking time had almost happened by accident.

"I went out there to win the race and I ended up breaking the record by accident. I didn't go out there to set a record, but I pushed him hard to win the race."

The younger Roque, who also followed his father's footsteps to be a top powerboat racer, believes that like the ponies, speed is in his bones.

He said it had taken a while for him to get into pony racing, but now he was chomping at the bit.

"I grew up around horses and it was a natural progression for me - it just took a little longer."

Ed, who started riding horses as a child on his daddy's farm in Warwick - still home to his excavation business and Roque stables today, added: "I've always had a horse for him, but it's only recently that he's started to get seriously into it. I had to let him get into it in his own time."

In a sport where instinct and breeding are central to success, the Roques seem to have it all.

But for Ed there is one thing more important than all those other factors - preparation.

"The most important thing to remember is what you put into an animal is what you get back. It's a seven-day-a-week deal."

GV Crystal Ball will race for the Champion of Champions title on February 8. Casmir Camotion will not enter the showpiece race but will continue to race for the rest of the season in a bid to hold on to it's track record.[[In-content Ad]]

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