Mark Kavanagh is hoping a plan seven months in the making will be realised at Eagle Farm on Saturday when Horrifying tackles the Group 1 Queensland Derby.
Melbourne’s lockdown has forced the Flemington trainer to watch the Derby from afar — but not for want of trying to be at Eagle Farm.
Kavanagh, who arrived in Brisbane on Thursday, was forced to return to Melbourne on Friday after Queensland health authorities rejected his bid to stay in the state under Covid protocols.
Despite not being able to see the Horrifying in the flesh, it should matter not, as Kavanagh earmarked the $600,000 feature as the target race late last year after competing in Group races short of his best distance.
Kavanagh, chasing a 22nd Group 1 success and his first since Magicool won the 2015 Queensland Derby, knew the son of his 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking would furnish into a stayer — eventually.
“He’s been nurtured along and cuddled and is peaking at the right time,” Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh purposely avoided the Derby circuit, which Explosive Jack has since dominated, so Horrifying had the best possible chance to succeed at Eagle Farm.
“My horse was trained for this race from last November,” Kavanagh said.
“This race was where he was trained to peak at, whereas the others have been there and everywhere.
“If you notice mine, he’s on the right run and looks like he’s going to relish the 2400m.”
Jamie Kah will be aboard Horrifying again in the Derby. Picture: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Horrifying was a class above last Saturday, winning over 2000m at Flemington, under regular jockey Jamie Kah, as the pair made up for a luckless defeat as favourites at Caulfield the start before.
It continued Kah’s strong association with Kavanagh, striking at 30 per cent winners (five) to starters (17) this season, with a further six minor placings.
Sure, Kah made the dash to Brisbane before Melbourne was plunged into lockdown to ride Stradbroke favourite Ayrton in the Fred Best Classic, but Horrifying only strengthens her hand at Eagle Farm.
Despite racing out of the spotlight — three-year-old handicaps — as others chased the prizemoney and prestige of autumn classics, Horrifying opened an $11 fourth elect with TAB for the Queensland Derby.
Support for all-conquering Explosive Jack and the indomitable Chris Waller-James McDonald combination, aboard Kukeracha, has seen Horrifying drift to $16.
Mark Kavanagh had the Queensland Derby in mind for Horrifying. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
Kavanagh considered the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate a fortnight ago but elected to stay in Melbourne after Horrifying's excusable Caulfield defeat.
“He was exposed and ran up the hill wide,” Kavanagh said.
“An excellent run (considering) and nobody lost faith with him given he was favourite last Saturday.
“He’s every bit as good, if not better than he was last Saturday.
“I questioned whether I should’ve gone the other way when I couldn’t get the plane (last week) but once I got the plane I was very happy with my decision to back-up as that was always the plan.
“I like my stayers that are going to peak to back-up.”
The Shocking legacy, which Kavanagh hopes Horrifying will build on in the spring after a short spell in Queensland, has not been lost on the astute Flemington trainer.
“Every trainer likes to train progeny of the stallions they’ve made,” Kavanagh said.
“It’s special because Shocking won a Melbourne Cup, but you keep that in the back of your mind.”
Originally published asDerby fancies will be Horrified by Kav’s stayer
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