Kia Ora Koutou has been a strong and consistent performer for leading Perth trainer Adam Durrant through his short racing career so far, and is confident the gelding is primed for a return to winning form in Saturday’s 2016 WATC Derby (2400m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Capping a standout debut preparation with an impressive performance for third behind Tarzino and Etymology in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m), Kia Ora Koutou resumed this time for fifth in the Listed Lex Piper Stakes (1600m) on March 5th.
Progressing to third in the Listed JC Robert Stakes (1800m) on March 19th, the son of Blackfriars savaged the line for a close second in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) last time and will relish a return to a mile and a half on Saturday.
Pleased with the progression made by his new stable star, Durrant told Racing Victoria he has no concerns with Kia Ora Koutou leading into the 2016 WATC Derby and believes he is ready for a big performance.
“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 said.
“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.”
Debuting for success in the Vale Ian Loxton Maiden (1400m) in August last year, Kia Ora Koutou experienced something of a rise to prominence in winning each of his next three starts in succession, including the Crown Perth BM72+ (2200m) amongst open company leading into the Victoria Derby.
Kia Ora Koutou has been confirmed to be partnered by regular hoop Joe Azzopardi in the 2016 WATC Derby and will leave from the rails draw.
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