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The Allan Sharrock-trained star was a brilliant last-start second behind Enzo’s Lad in last month’s Telegraph at Trentham, defying the day’s racing pattern by charging home from off the pace.
Circumstances gave the horse almost no winning chance but he got to within a half length of the winner at the line, clocking a fast 32.3sec last 600m.
It is not the prospect of a fairer Te Rapa track that makes Sharrock confident about his star’s chances. Instead it is the fact Kawi will meet many of the rivals he beat in the Telegraph on a better weight.
‘‘All those behind him have to come up to his weight on Saturday under weight-for-age. At Trentham, he was giving them all weight,’’ Sharrock said.
‘‘His form is better than anything else. I’m pretty confident going into it.’’
With Jason Waddell and Leith Innes suspended, Sharrock has called on Jonathan Riddell to ride the horse.
Riddell rode Kawi in nine of his 10 starts when he was a testing type compared with the complete racehorse that will be on show tomorrow, Sharrock said.
The prospect of Kawi equalling Mufhasa’s record of eight group 1 wins in New Zealand gave his camp even more motivation, the trainer said.
Kawi’s main rival, Start Wondering, recorded a rare flop in a one of New Zealand’s premier sprints with his 16th placing in the Telegraph. The horse raced at least four wide for the entire race before weakening in the straight.
The Evan and JJ Rayner-trained gelding has a perfect two-from-two record at Te Rapa
and could well atone for his Telegraph flop.
Star mare Lizzie L’Amour heads the field for the group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes.
Like Start Wondering, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained mare has a brilliant record on the course, winning three of her four starts there.
She steps back up to 2000m after going a slashing race for second behind Thee Auld Floozie at group 2 level over 1400m at Ellerslie last month.
●Jockey Brett Murray scored his first win since the 2015-16 season with The Czar at Invercargill yesterday.
Murray also won the last race yesterday on Kilowatt.
The rider has rejuvenated his career with the aid of Riverton trainer Kelvin Tyler, who trained The Czar and Kilowatt.
Yesterday’s victories took Murray’s career total to 25 wins.