Kaapfever Rules the roost on Australia Day

Kaapfever (NZ) (Sufficient) produced one of the biggest moments in racing for breeder and co-owner Colin Rule at Warwick Farm on Wednesday when winning the Listed Australia Day Cup (2400m).

The son of Sufficient ran third in the race last year and Rule was delighted that the Joe Pride-trained gelding was able to go two better this year.

Rule didn’t give the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old much of a chance until he neared the 800m mark.

“It was amazing, we didn’t give him a chance halfway around,” Rule said.

“It was a day where it looked like you could run on from the back, which suits his style. We didn’t expect to be so far back, but because there was such good tempo in the race that was the way it unfolded.

“You could see at the 800m mark that the field was compacting a bit so I was thinking we might be able to run into the money, but it certainly didn’t look like he would win from there.

“He has always had that good finish.”

It was Kaapfever’s seventh win from 59 starts and it was a great tonic for Rule who has suffered from health issues over the years.

“I have had a few battles with cancer and I was in hospital last week with a blood clot in my leg,” Rule said.

“I think that excitement yesterday might have moved it from the left leg to the right.”

Kaapfever also continues the lineage of a breed that has been in Rule’s family for many years.

“We have bred three generations from the family,” he said. “My father bought the grand dam originally from a mixed bloodstock sale. She was $200 with a foal at foot.

“We have kept the family going. Dad passed away at 63, so we took the old mare and sent her to Straight Strike and carried on from there. It has taken a few generations to get the family back on track.”

Bred in New Zealand, Kaapfever had a couple of trials in his homeland for trainer Brent Gillovic before he crossed the Tasman.

“He ran third in his last trial,” Rule said. “If he didn’t do anything in that trial I think Brent said he probably wasn’t worth continuing with.

“We put blinkers on him that time and he ran a nice trial.

“He came to Australia because the money was so terrible in New Zealand and we would have been happy to win at country level.

“He has now won seven races including this Listed race, so he has done us proud.

“He is such a lovely horse. The whole family is so lovely, they are everyone’s favourite horses.

“He is a gentleman, he never bites, kicks, or plays up.

“He is seven-years-old now and he has never had any problems with his legs or feet, he is so sound. He is the most relaxed horse to do anything with.”

Rule said his gelding is crying out for further ground.

“He is a genuine stayer,” he said. “He ran an unlucky second in the Stayers Cup last year over two miles and was finishing like a rocket. He will stay all day I think.

“He really needs 2400m upwards to be at his best.”

While pleased with the win, Rule said Kaapfever’s rating has now skyrocketed, which will make it harder for him in the immediate future.

“NSW Racing has slugged him with an increase of 22 benchmark points for the win, which Joe Pride is absolutely gobsmacked about,” Rule said.

“He has never seen such a big incremental rise for a race that isn’t worth much more than a normal Saturday race.

“We have gone from a 68 to a 92 in two starts, which is just unheard of.

“It forces a horse that is not competitive in that grade normally to suddenly being forced to look for Listed and Group races. He is a bit of a one-paced handicapper really.”

Kaapfever is the only horse from the family currently in work, but Rule is looking forward to continuing his family through his half-sister.

“His dam was the only mare we had lately and unfortunately she died giving birth to a foal by Super Easy,” Rule said.

“We missed out on going to Proisir the next year, which would have been a nice mating I think.

“We have got a Super Easy half-sister to Kaapfever at stud in Tasmania. We will breed from her.”

Rule was also full of praise for trainer Joe Pride.

“Joe Pride has done a great job with the horse,” he said.

“He is a smaller stable and his record at taking tried horses to another level is second to none.”

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