If you Google the word ‘Kaluna’ one of the explanations that appears for its meaning is ‘extremes in fortune, health and spirituality’.
For trainer Mark Gatt, and the Australian Bloodstock Syndicate which races the talented greyhound Kihael Kaluna, they’ll be hoping that ‘extreme fortunes’ come their way in the $75,000 to the winner G1 Vic. Peters Classic final at Wentworth Park this Saturday night.
Purchased for a reported $120,000 earlier this year, Kihael Kaluna has drawn box 3 after clocking the fastest time of the four semi-finals last week and has been installed as a $2.50 favourite on the TAB.com.au Fixed Odds markets.
To say its been a rocky road for Gatt and the connections since the much publicised purchase in April this year is a massive understatement – days after securing the son of Oaks Road, Kihael Kaluna finished at the tail of the field behind Black Bear Lee (who will start from box 5 on Saturday night) in the final of the G3 Magic Maiden in early April.
Two months off the track was followed by a 7th behind Fernando Bale in a heat of the G1 Peter Mosman Classic before finishing 11 lengths last at Maitland in a Grade 5 event.
Gatt knew there was something drastically amiss with Kihael Kaluna and after plenty of consternation, took the plunge to have Kihael Kaluna’s tonsils removed in the hope that he could return to his previous form that included sizzling victories at his first two starts.
Resuming after nearly three months off, Kihael Kaluna gained a lucky start from box 1 in a heat of the Vic Peters after originally being drawn as a reserve and duly landed the prize when scoring by 6 lengths in 29.83; before scoring by the barest possible margin from Zambora Brockie in 29.69, his equal best at the track, in the semi-final.
If Kihael Kaluna can time the jump to perfection as he has done in his past two starts he could find himself with clear running in the early stages and a sub-29.70 run may just be enough to take out the Classic for his owners which include jockey, Brenton Avdulla, who will be riding at Flemington on Saturday afternoon.
To my mind, up and coming Victorian chaser Blazin’ Bomber ($3.50) has been ‘feeling’ his way around Wentworth Park in his only two appearances at the venue, however, there is no doubting his ability as is evidenced by a fast 29.28 win at Sandown Park and also 29.61 at Angle Park.
Black Bear Lee ($8.50) represents tremendous value after scoring emphatic victories in his heat and semi-final. His Wentworth Park record stands at 12 starts for 8 wins and 2 placings and like the favourite, his PB at the track is 29.69. If he can miss early trouble from the awkward box 5 draw, my speed map has Black Bear Lee sitting behind Kihael Kaluna as they go through the first turn.
Of the other contenders, you couldn’t help but be impressed by Zambora Brockie’s ($3.50) effort to finish a nose behind Kihael Kaluna in the semi-final after losing valuable ground on the top turn and Nagar Flame ($23) has a fast 30.36 win at Richmond to his credit and is improving with every start at the Glebe circuit.
My tips in the G1 Vic Peters Classic, which is Race 8 on the card at Wentworth Park and is timed to start at 9.50pm (AEDT), are Black Bear Lee from Kihael Kaluna, Blazin’ Bomber and Zambora Brockie
Join me for all the action as we broadcast live on Sky Racing 1 (Ch519) and I’ll have interviews with the trainers of the key chances and hopefully plenty of winners via-the Late Mail.
Good luck and good punting
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase