Perth trainer Adam Durrant has been thrilled with the results posted by three-year-old Kia Ora Koutou through his short racing career so-far, and is confident his retention of regular hoop Joe Azzopardi with pay dividends in Saturday’s featured Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
Kia Ora Koutou is yet to taste anything but success through four career starts so far, and booked his ticket east for a tilt at the 2015 Victoria Derby when beating a talented field to the line with complete ease in the Crown Perth BM72 (2200m) on October 3rd.
19-year-old Azzopardi has never ridden in a Group 1 race, nor posted a win at the famed Flemington Racecourse however Durrant believes the positives of his retention for the ride on Kia Ora Koutou on Saturday far outweigh any possible negatives.
“It’s not as if it’s a 1200m sprint at Caulfield, which are highly tactical races. This is a 2500m race at Flemington on a big, spacious track,” Durrant told The Herald Sun.
“I think Joe knowing the horse and the way he races, leaving him on his a bigger advantage than putting someone new on.
“He has a great style and a good nature which suits the horse.
“It’s not going to be the strongest race. There’s a lot of maiden and Class 2 horses in it. Maybe there’s a Caulfield Cup winner in the field, maybe it’s me.
“At his last start he was never out of second or third gear and he was taking on some handy older horses.”
Azzopardi is understandably pleased to have retained the ride on Kia Ora Koutou in the 2015 Victoria Derby and is relishing the thought of a maiden success at the highest level.
“I have a lot of faith in the horse,” Azzopardi said.
“His best attribute is how he switches off in the run.
“I’m looking on Saturday as a great opportunity. I’m good mates with Damien Lane and Damien Oliver has been good to me so I’ll have a word to them.”
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