Perth horseman Adam Durrant on Tuesday paid the Victoria Derby 2015 first acceptance fee for the undefeated Kia Ora Koutou despite original plans not to run the youngster over that far in his first campaign.
A winner of all four of his career starts to date, the Lark Hill-trained Blackfriars gelding Kia Ora Koutou was one of 33 three-year-olds kept in contention for this year’s $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) running at Flemington Racecourse on October 31 at first declaration stage on Tuesday.
Durrant is thrilled with the continued progression and staying ability displayed by the up-and-comer who is yet to be tested in black-type company, but is still being kept safe in futures Victoria Derby betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“He’s always been a staying sort of type, we weren’t intending on going too far with him this prep,” Durrant told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“He just continued to keep improving in all four starts.”
The all-in Victoria Derby odds are currently led by the Mick Price-trained Tarzino ($3.60) who runs on Cox Plate Day this Saturday in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m).
At $10 for the Group 1 win Kia Ora Koutou is just outside the three single figure hopes in the markets trailing only the favourite, the flying Chris Waller-trained Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) winning Sydney galloper Vanbrugh ($6) and Stuart Webb’s Excellent Art colt Get The Picture ($8).
He debuted with an easy 1400m win at Pinjarra back in late August and has gone from strength to strength as Durrant increased the distance of each assignment.
His latest run was a one and a quarter length victory over 2020m at Belmont on October 3, a genuine staying performance that convinced Durrant to keep a trip to Melbourne for the Victoria Derby on the agenda this Spring Carnival.
“We decided to test him a couple of weeks ago against the older horses over the staying journey, and he came through that test with flying colours, so we’ve decided to roll the dice and have a go,” Durrant said.
Following that run, the young gun trialled at home at Lark Hill over 1450m on October 19 and enjoyed an easy two length victory in the hit out with his regular rider Joseph Azzopardi in the saddle once again.
“He probably trialled better than I even expected, and just showed how much he’s improved again on his last effort – which obviously he had to do,” Durrant said.
“But he’s just one of those progressive horses, instead of taking a step backwards, he’s always gone forwards.
“So he’s certainly the right type of horse to bring across. He’ll certainly give them something to beat.”
Durrant said the horse’s efforts on the track so far reflect his nice pedigree as he is a son of Blackfriars who sired dual Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God, while is dam Kia Ora Miss is also known to throw staying progeny.
“The Blackfriars have done quite well all across Australia when they’ve measured up in the better grade,” he said.
“I think this one’s going to end up one of the better ones.
“We’re under no illusions – it’s a task for any horse to travel, but we’ve got to be in it to win it. I think he’s the right horse to do it.”
Kia Ora Koutou will be stabled at Flemington with Leon and Troy Corstens of Malu Racing and is due to fly to Victoria on Wednesday evening.
To back the Perth raider at his current juicy price in the early Victoria Derby odds, make sure you head to Ladbrokes.com.au who are also offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on all Moonee Valley races on Saturday for Cox Plate Day!