Kawi (Jason Waddell) proves to be too tough for his rivals in the Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham.
With a supreme display of class and courage, Kawi collected his seventh Group One victory in today’s Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham and proved that he remains one of New Zealand’s very best gallopers.
The son of Savabeel had gone winless in the first four starts of his seven-year-old season. He was close-up in strong company in all of those appearances, often on unsuitable rain-affected ground, but some were nevertheless under the impression that his greatest days were behind him. They were wrong.
With Jason Waddell in the saddle, Kawi sat in the second half of the field in the early part of the 1600-metre feature and was shuffled even further back as the race was run at a stop-start tempo.
Waddell moved his mount away from the rail and circled the field approaching the turn, and Kawi quickly challenged for the lead after turning for home.
He was tested every step of the way down the home straight by strong-finishing rivals Consensus, Sofia Rosa, Benzini, Authentic Paddy, Coldplay and Son Of Maher. He had endured the toughest run of any of those horses and could have been forgiven for surrendering down the straight, but he refused to let any of them pass.
Showing the same tremendous fight that had helped him to six previous Group One wins over distances ranging from 1400 to 2000 metres, Kawi pinned his ears back and turned back all of the challengers to win by a length and a quarter. Consensus and Sofia Rosa took the minor placings.
The win was Kawi’s 15th from 37 starts and took his prize-money earnings past $1.3 million. Six of those wins have come from nine starts at Trentham, including an earlier Group One win in the Thorndon Mile.
“He’s got a lot of knockers, but he’s won seven Group One races now,” proud trainer and part-owner Allan Sharrock said.
“He circumnavigated the field and fought them all off. It’s a terrific performance. This is a pretty big result for me.”
Waddell has formed a successful partnership with the powerful gelding, starting with the Gr. 1 Haunui Farm WFA at Otaki in February.
“He was shuffled back and all over the place, so I decided to ride him like the best horse in the race,” he said. “Just like Hugh Bowman when he rides Winx, I decided to just let Kawi be Kawi.
“It’s a long way down that straight, but he’s just a tiger and he fought them all off.”
The result had special significance for Waddell, following the loss of his mother in early November.
“It’s special – Mum was born just down the road from here,” he said.
Sharrock has yet to make any firm plans for the rest of Kawi’s summer.
“We’ll have to decide whether we stay at a mile or go up to 2000 metres, or we could freshen him and have a crack at the Telegraph,” the New Plymouth trainer said. “He’s a pretty tractable horse.”
The big disappointment in the race was Miss Wilson, who led approaching the turn but gave way quickly in the straight and was eased out of the contest by rider Sam Collett.