WHEN Steve Turnbull drove Rock On in her first Australian start he was not overly impressed with how the mare performed and questioned her strength, but just over a month later those doubts have gone.
On Friday night at the Bathurst Paceway, Rock On ($3.20) proved her toughness to Turnbull as she took out the Star Trek Final (1,730 metres).
Rock On spent much of the journey sitting in the death seat, hitting the lead for the first time as they entered the apex of the final bend. She led into the straight and while her rivals came at her, she kicked again with 100m to go to take out the annual feature.
It was the first time Turnbull had sat in the gig behind the Rock N Roll Heaven x Zagami mare since her debut for his stable in early October, a third a Penrith which saw her show good gate speed but then surrender the lead.
Since then Steve's daughter Amanda Turnbull had taken over driving duties and guided Rock On to three consecutive wins. Friday night's victory made it four in a row and highlighted just how much Rock On has improve since arriving from New Zealand.
"She's got a lot of strength," Turnbull said.
"I drove her in her first start and she got attacked a bit and let them cross and never came good.
"I thought she was going to be trouble, but she's looking good now. She just keeps improving with each race."
While Turnbull said he "just tried to settle in the trail" and was able to do that in the early stages, he soon opted to get off the pegs. As the bell sounded Rock On was facing the breeze outside leader Dunno Jo.
When Ziggy Rocks punched forward down the back straight, Turmbull responded by asking his mare to give. Unlike the first time her drove her, this time Rock On was able to up her tempo.
"When that one came down the back I didn't know how much she had left in the tank, but she got on the bit and kept coming," Turnbull said.
Rock On got the nod over Joetomo (Trent Rue, $23) by 1.4m with Ziggy Rocks (Tom Pay, $17) a neck back in third.
While not as quick as her 1:55.4 heat winning effort, Rock On's winning mile rate of 1:58.6 was still solid given the blustery conditions and took her career record to five wins from 18 starts.