Ukraine major hope in feature

The Bob Butt-trained Ukraine is the likely favourite for the feature Kindergarten Stakes at...
The Bob Butt-trained Ukraine is the likely favourite for the feature Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham tomorrow. PHOTO: HRNZ
A bigger and stronger Ukraine returns to Southland following his scintillating debut with the group 3 Kindergarten Stakes in his sights.

The 2-year-old turned heads when unleashing a scorching 26.0sec final 400m to win his first start at Winton last month.

Ukraine travelled to Southland yesterday ahead of his Kindergarten tilt and is stationed with Brent Barclay and Lauren Pearson at Winton.

After arriving, Ukraine’s Woodend Beach trainer-driver Bob Butt got a second opinion on just how well his horse has progressed since his debut.

"I probably don’t notice looking at him but Brent said when he came off the truck he has really strengthened up since he was last down here," Butt said.

Though Ukraine showed outstanding speed in his debut, his trainer-driver does not think that is where his game ends.

And if the possibility of rough weather turns the Kindergarten Stakes into a staying test, Ukraine has stamina on his side, too.

"I would say he will end up being quite a strong horse," Butt said.

"On his work at home, he feels like more of a dour type of horse."

"But obviously in his trials and his race, he has shown plenty of speed."

Ukraine (2) has clinched a crucial draw advantage over two of his main rivals in Always Dreaming (4) and Rubira (7).

Butt asked the pacer to leave the mobile with some purpose in his latest trial and he showed he has the speed to make the most of his Kindergarten Stakes draw.

"I asked him to come out of the gate in his last trial and he came out really good.

"I was happy when the draws came out and hopefully he can make the most of it."

Like Ukraine, Always Dreaming and Rubira come into the Kindergarten Stakes unbeaten at the races.

Always Dreaming dead-heated in the Kindergarten Stakes Prelude at Wyndham earlier this month, with race-rival Franco Ezra.

Rubira beat only one other rival in his debut at Addington recently, but the pacer impressed in the process when running excellent closing sectionals.