Kukeracha (NZ) Completes Six-Derby Sweep

31 May 2021

Kukeracha (NZ) claiming the G1 Moet & Chandon Queensland Derby (2400m). Photo: Ross Stevenson

A heart-stopping win by Kukeracha (NZ) (Night of Thunder) in Saturday’s A$600,000 Group One Moet & Chandon Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm completed an incredible clean sweep of all six Derby races in Australia this season by three-year-olds sourced in New Zealand.

Bought for $130,000 by Mulcaster Bloodstock at Karaka 2019, Kukeracha followed on from fellow Karaka graduates Johnny Get Angry (NZ) (Tavistock) in the Group One Victoria Derby (2500m) and Explosive Jack (NZ) (Jakkalberry) in the Group One Australian Derby (2400m) and Group One South Australian Derby (2500m).

Explosive Jack also won the Listed Tasmanian Derby (2200m), while fellow Kiwi-bred Western Empire (NZ) (Iffraaj) captured the Group Two WATC Derby (2400m). In addition, Karaka graduates Lion’s Roar (NZ) (Contributer) and Mo’unga (NZ) (Savabeel) have recorded further Group One triumphs in Sydney in this year’s Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Rosehill Guineas (2000m) respectively.

Kukeracha was bred by Waikato Stud’s resident vet, Dr Chris Phillips, and he was offered through Waikato Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2019. He has now had 13 starts for three wins, five placings and A$583,245 in stakes – more than four times his purchase price.

All eyes were on Explosive Jack on Saturday as he shot for a historic fourth Derby for the season in four different states of Australia, and the remarkable warrior produced another big performance for a close third.

But this time it was the Chris Waller-trained Kukeracha who powerfully surged out of midfield in the hands of champion jockey James McDonald, edging out fast-finishing stablemate Senor Toba (Toronado) in a thrilling photo finish. Explosive Jack crossed the line a length behind the first pair.

“He's just a good horse - he deserved it,” McDonald said. “I probably should have waited a little longer at the top of the straight, because I got into a little bit of trouble, but he was the right horse to get me out of it. He's got a great turn of foot.”

The Queensland Derby was Kukeracha’s first black-type win, but he had produced highly promising performances to place in the Group Two Queensland Guineas (1600m) and Group Three Rough Habit Plate (2000m) in his two lead-up runs.

“We had a great opinion of him as a two-year-old, but he just lost his way a little bit,” Waller said. “It’s the typical story – he was gelded and just taken through the system.

“We brought him up here to run at Eagle Farm in the summer (a win over 1600 metres on Boxing Day), and he ran very well. I just wanted to give him some experience on this track, and maybe that’s been a good move. His run in the Queensland Guineas was good, his last start in the Rough Habit was good, and today was brilliant.

“He just came into the race nicely. I saw Explosive Jack, with all his form, kicking through on the inside, and I thought we’re going to run a nice second or third, but to our horses’ credit, they dug deep.”

Bought by Mulcaster Bloodstock, trained by Waller and racing in the colours of Neville Morgan, Kukeracha represents the same owner-trainer-purchaser team as previous Group One-winning Karaka graduates Kermadec (NZ) (Teofilo) and Kolding (NZ) (Ocean Park). The Waller-trained, Morgan-owned Group One star Rangirangdoo (NZ) (Pentire) was also purchased at Karaka.

“He (Morgan) is a proud Queenslander, which makes this win very special,” Waller said.

Vendor Waikato Stud Ltd
Purchaser Mulcaster Bloodstock (Auckland)
Breeding Night of Thunder – Portrait of a Lady
Sale Lot 313, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $130,000
Bred by Dr C R Phillips