The Chris Waller-trained Kovalica further enhanced his Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) claims with an arrogant performance to win the Gr.2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The son of Ocean Park was posted three-deep throughout but clicked into gear late under Nash Rawiller to get the better of Perfect Thought and The Vowels.
Raced by proud Queenslander Neville Morgan and David Devine, the Derby in the Sunshine State has long been on the cards for the high-class three-year-old.
The gelding put the writing on the wall late last year when breaking the 2100m Eagle Farm track record previously held by Gypsy Goddess when winning the Gr.3 Grand Prix Stakes back in December.
A winner of five of his seven starts, Kovalica had caught the eye when rattling into third when resuming in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m) at Randwick on April 8 and took another step forward on Saturday.
Kovalica was confidently ridden by Nash Rawiller, with Chris Waller’s Queensland stable foreman Brett Killion impressed by the pair’s ability to get the job done.
“Good horses seem to overcome difficulties. He is a horse on the way up and the grand final is in four weeks,” Killion said.
“We were aware of that and at the mile today he might not have had quite the dash that he did first up.
“Before the race, I don’t know who was more laid back, Nash or the horse. They both get out there and it is game on. He was too good.”
The Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) at Doomben on May 13 is the next assignment before the Derby at Eagle Farm on May 27 and Killion wasn’t concerned by Saturday’s tough run.
“Nothing really fazes him. He is likely to go home and lick the bin. He just slops aroud the track and nothing fazes him,” he said.
Rawiller was also complimentary of the horse who will be suited over further ground.
“To be fair, I almost got into one off the fence, but once I realised I couldn’t get in, I looked up and had a look around and thought ‘I’m in the perfect spot here’,” Rawiller said.
“He just got into a beautiful rhythm and travelled really well and the way the track has been racing, it was going to help him home
“To be fair when I went for him with 100m to go, he sort of thought there is still another lap in there. He is a very nice horse.
“I was confident that my bloke had Perfect Thought’s measure and he is going to get better over further.”
Bred by Nearco Stud, Kovalica was purchased out of Curraghmore’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale draft for $110,000 by Guy Mulcaster.
By Waikato Stud stallion Ocean Park, Kovalica is out of the winning Makfi mare Vitesse, a half-sister to triple Group One winning sprinter The Bostonian.
Vitesse is back in foal to Ocean Park. – NZ Racing Desk