WHEN it comes to two-year-old harness racing you can count on the fact that some horses will still be developing race manners, and an early break of stride isn't an uncommon sight.
Several runners in Friday night's opening Gold Crown Heat (1,730 metres) at Bathurst Paceway demonstrated just that - but not David Kennedy's Rocknroll Runa ($2.25 favourite).
While two of Rocknroll Runa's biggest dangers - Stravinsky ($4.80) and Happy Publicans ($5) - wrote themselves out of the race before the first turn had even ended, Kennedy youngster kept a cool head and showed perfect poise on his way to victory.
Jackson Painting made his debut drive at Bathurst one to remember as he was able to ease up and win by four metres ahead of Bernie Hewitt's surprise runner-up Tom The Curious ($81).
"He ticks all the boxes as a young horse who's doing everything right," Painting said of his winner.
"I was just saying to Bernie that I'd never driven at Bathurst before and I didn't realise how strong that wind was down the back straight, so he's gone very good.
"He'll certainly be there or thereabouts in the final. They'll definitely know he's there."
Rocknroll Runa got away smoothly from the inside gate and Samuel John showed early speed along with Stravinsky.
Stravinsky sat three wide as Blake Jones made a move to find the early lead but his young colt broke as he tried to come across the track.
It put an end to his final hopes as he drifted to the tail of the field and struggled to recover stride.
Almost in perfect unison, John Boserio's Happy Publicans broke stride while racing in clean air along the pegs.
He too dropped out the back of the pack, hindering many of his rivals in the process.
Lilmac was another runner who broke stride when Happy Publicans drifted backwards.
Rocknroll Runa left all that drama behind him and would take some beating after many of his rivals had to put in extra effort just to bridge the newly-formed gap.
Tom The Curious worked forward to the death seat on the final lap, and he'd be the only horse able to offer up a challenge to Rocknroll Runa after Samuel John - trailing the leader - lost contact on the turn for home.
Hewitt's outsider fought on bravely after battling the breeze across the final lap but Rocknroll Runa couldn't have asked for a better trip as a casual strode home for victory.
He jogged home in a winning mile rate of 2:00.1.
The other heat winners on the night were Brian Portelli's Tasty Delight, David Moran's Lochinvar Chief, the Clayton Tonkin-trained Idyllic, Kashed Up from Gemma Hewitt's stables, and Emma Stewart's Ideal Dan.