Kovalica has underlined his star quality and put to bed any doubts over his stamina with an emphatic performance in the Group 1 Queensland Derby.
After missing a scheduled start in the Rough Habit Plate due to a foot abscess, the three-year-old showed his class with an admiral third against the older horses in the Doomben Cup (2000m) last Saturday.
The 2400-metre Derby trip was new territory again, but punters were happy to bank on the cream rising to the top and Kovalika delivered, surging to the front at the top of the straight to quickly put the race beyond doubt before James Mcdonald idled him down over the concluding stages.
The $1.70 favourite scored by two lengths over Fame ($10) with Stroke Of Luck ($31) the same margin away third.
It was trainer Chris Waller’s third Queensland Derby and the 149th Group 1 of his career, the champion trainer saying their decision to go to the Doomben Cup was critical.
“There was a hiccup two weeks ago but we didn’t panic, gave him that extra run and once he hit the front I thought he was fit enough, he will be right,” Waller said.
“It was a faultless ride and obviously barrier draws make things so much easier.
“James cleverly got out in the three-wide line at about the half mile because he had done nothing up until that stage, so he was entitled to get out and make his own luck.”
Kovalica’s triumph also leaves McDonald one win shy of a milestone 80 career majors, something he hopes to rectify before the Brisbane winter carnival is over.
Either way, he has no doubt Kovalica is a star on the rise and a horse destined for bigger races.
“He’s a really good horse. To show a turn of foot over those trips is something else,” McDonald said.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in a race, they make their own luck the good horses and he did that really well.
“There wasn’t a moment of fear in that race because nothing went wrong.
“It was poetry in motion, he galloped away really well.”
– RAS NewsWire