Two years after taking out the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm, the Kiwi-bred Kukeracha returned to the same Eagle Farm meeting on Saturday and landed another big prize over the same course and distance.
The Chris Waller-trained five-year-old prevailed in a tight finish to the Gr.3 Living Turf Premier’s Cup (2400m), taking his career earnings past A$1 million from a 33-start career that has produced five wins and nine placings.
Heading into Saturday’s race on the back of a strong-finishing third in the Listed Wagga Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) on May 5, Kukeracha relished the extra 400m of Saturday’s race.
Jockey James McDonald drove him up alongside the front-running Serpentine in the home straight, and they were soon joined by the strong-finishing Kalapour on their outside.
Kukeracha dug the deepest of the trio, gradually gaining the upper hand over Serpentine and edging out the former Gr.1 Epsom Derby (2400m) winner to score by a short half-head.
“He likes Eagle Farm, and he’s a fighter too,” McDonald said. “When that one joined him on the outside (Kalapour), it felt like he was always going to get there. Even though it was a short margin, he’s a tough horse.”
Kukeracha is now unbeaten in two starts over 2400m at Eagle Farm, and he has enjoyed further Queensland successes with a win in last year’s Listed Tails Stakes (1640m) at Doomben, along with placings in last year’s Gr.2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) and the 2021 running of the Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m).
“He was probably the omen bet, being a Derby winner a couple of years back,” Waller said.
“He found form up here last year as well, so he certainly loves it here. It was a great ride from James, and just a nice, sentimental win.”
Kukeracha was bred by former Waikato Stud vet Dr Chris Phillips and was offered in the Matamata nursery’s draft at Karaka in 2019. He was purchased for $130,000 by bloodstock agent Guy Mulcaster on behalf of prominent owner Neville Morgan.
Kukeracha is by Night Of Thunder out of the A.P. Indy mare Portrait Of A Lady.