Ukraine favourite for today's Kindergarten Stakes

By Jonny Turner

A bigger and stronger Ukraine returns to Southland following his scintillating debut with the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes in his sights.

The two-year-old turned heads when unleashing a scorching 26.0sec final 400m to win his first start at Winton in February.

Ukraine travelled to Southland on Tuesday ahead of his Kindergarten tilt at Wyndham today and he is stationed with Brent Barclay and Lauren Pearson at Winton.

After arriving, 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 doesn’t 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). He is at $2.40 on the fixed fields, with Rubira at $3.30, and Always Dreaming at $3.50.

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

Racing Journalist Jonny Turner's five horses to follow :

Miraculous :

Miraculous gets the chance to show his true worth after a disappointing last-start effort at Winton.

The pacer hasn’t been sighted since, but punters should have plenty of confidence in trainer Nathan Williamson having his horse forward and ready to run a nice race.

Miraculous was outstanding in his first two career starts and if he can produce a similar effort he should be right in the fight in Wyndham’s Southern Supremacy Stakes heat.

The three-year-old is forced to start from the outside of the front line under the race’s preferential barrier draw, but with just four horses inside him, it looks workable.

Haley Robyn :

Strong recent performances show Haley Robyn is ready to shine on Kindergarten Stakes Day.

The mare comes into race 2 after a solid fourth at Oamaru after making a rare mistake behind the mobile.

That set her back and made for a tough run after, but she fought on creditably.

Haley Robyn’s previous fourth at Wyndham was even better.

The five-year-old was three-wide in the open from the 800m and stuck on bravely in a slightly harder grade than she faces this week.

Slotting into barrier 5 looks ideal for Haley Robyn who can race on the speed and give her rivals something to chase.

Jonjondagoosehasgone :

Several talented horses will make their debut in race 3 at Wyndham but one has clinched a significantly stronger draw than the rest.

Barrier 5, with mostly outside hopes drawn inside him, looks very workable for undoubtedly the most curiously named horse starting on Kindergarten Stakes Day.

It should effectively give Jonjondagoosehasgone a handy head-start on his main rivals who have drawn much trickier barriers.

The pacer just needs to run up to his recent workout win at the same track, where he powered away from his rivals to win, to be a serious winning threat.

Xerion :

Xerion has burst out of the starting blocks in just two starts, impressing in his maiden win before producing a strong second placing.

In that second, the trotter ran a very creditable race behind the highly promising Fiery Bandito, who also steps out at Wyndham.

Xerion kept hitting the line strongly behind the winner in what looks outstanding form to bring to the field he faces this week.

Expect the four-year-old to bring excellent manners as he has done in his races and trials to date, put himself in a sweet spot, and run another strong race.

Da Vinci :

There is a key ingredient to the Hunter Handicap that looks a massive plus for Da Vinci.

The speedster ran on strongly from the back in the recent Wyndham Cup after starting from a 30m handicap.

Da Vinci faces the same mark again on Thursday, but the key difference is that he faces just eight other rivals this week.
The usually swift beginner was a stride slow away in his last start, but another key difference is he that is one of just two horses who are behind the front markers.

This recipe looks enough for Da Vinci to make a better beginning and settle much handier than he did in his last start fourth.

If that scenario plays out, expect the four-year-old to take plenty of holding out.


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