Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Adam Durrant’s Victoria Derby placegetter from the spring Kia Ora Kouta will race for another Group 1 target in the SA Derby 2016 later this autumn with a run at Perth in this weekend’s $400,000 Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m).
The three-year-old son of Blackfriars won his first four career starts in Western Australia before being thrown in the deep end when set to Melbourne last October to run third behind Tarzino in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
Kia Ora Kouta went back home to Perth after that and has had three runs again this time in, all at Ascot Racecourse where he returns again on Saturday stepping up to a mile and a half for his local Derby.
Two back he ran third to Heart Starter in the Listed J.C. Roberts Stakes (1800m) before his last start second behind Who Dat Singa in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m).
He faces off against those same two horses in the WATC Derby on the weekend, jumping from barrier one in the 12-starter field with his regular rider Joseph Azzopardi retaining his association with the promising galloper.
All going to plan and the Lark Hill-based Durrant will consider a trip to Adelaide for a shot at the $500,000 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville Racecourse on May 14.
“All that will take care of itself, but first he’s got to go well on Saturday,” Durrant told Racing Victoria.
After his Victoria Derby run last October, Kia Ora Koutou suffered a nearly career-ending injury to his knee when crashing through a fence while still stabled in Melbourne.
“We’ve had a slow start to the preparation because of that injury he had in Melbourne before he headed home but he’s bounced back really good,” Durrant assured punters.
“I’ve got no issues with his fitness and he seems to be the same horse I had in Melbourne for the Victoria Derby so I’m hoping that’s good enough to knock them off on Saturday.
“We’ve ridden him pretty conservatively all prep. We haven’t ridden to hurt him so he’s been in the back of the fields and when the sprint’s gone on, he’s been in the wrong spot to progress in the race.
“Saturday, we’ll be a little more positive with him and he should be able to hold a bit of a spot.
“Obviously, this is his grand final. This is what we set him for. Hopefully, we’ve got it right.”
Durrant is set to head off around Australia on a 12-month break from racing, but said that should Kia Ora Kouta win on the weekend as the WATC Derby favourite, he might stick around to watch the horse race in the Group 1 in South Australia next month.
“There’s a possibility I might even hold off my trip away and he might go to Adelaide for the SA Derby but first, let’s get Saturday out of the way,” he said.
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