Smart staying three-year-old Kovalica gave favourite punters few concerns when he cruised to victory in Saturday’s Gr.3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m) at Eagle Farm.
Sent out $1.45 favourite, the Chris Waller-trained son of Ocean Park was allowed to find his feet by jockey James Orman, getting back to last in the eight-horse field before looping his rivals and proving a class above.
Raced by Neville Morgan and David Devine, Kovalica has now won four of his five starts and the Kiwi bred shapes as an ideal Derby prospect.
Gypsy Goddess won the race 12 months ago before going on to win the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) during the winter, and there are high hopes Kovalica will be able to land a blow over Classic distances next year.
Both Gypsy Goddess and Kovalica were raised and presented at Karaka by Gordon Cunningham’s Curraghmore.
Waller’s Queensland representative Brett Killion confirmed Kovalica will now head for a spell.
“He is a lovely staying prospect. There was no pace and he circled them and came away,” Killion said.
“Full credit to the second horse (Noah ’N’ A Deel) who has got a bright future. She has chased us twice now and hasn’t disgraced herself.
“He is very responsive. You can put him anywhere. There was a school of thought that we would probably bounce forward today and put him outside the leader. That wasn’t the plan but I am sure if it was, we would have got the same result.
“He picked them up pretty easily and there are bigger things in store including Derbys and hopefully we are back here in June (Gr.1 Queensland Derby, 2400m).”
Orman was surprised by how quickly he picked up his rivals with the gelding eased down on the line.
“He is a typical stayer that bounces out and lobs along off the bridle, then when you pick him up, he is there underneath you,” he said.
“I got there a lot quicker than what I wanted but he will just continue to get better.”
Bred by Nearco Stud, Kovalica was purchased out of Curraghmore’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale draft for $110,000 by Guy Mulcaster.
The son of Ocean Park is out of the winning Makfi mare Vitesse, a half-sister to triple Group One winning sprinter The Bostonian. – NZ Racing Desk