AARON Kuru crowned his spectacular jumps season with his second win in the Grand National Hurdle with a late burst to win on San Remo at Sandown Lakeside for Stawell trainer Dane Smith which gave him his biggest success.
The star New Zealand jockey who now resides in Victoria has ridden 15 winners for the season and is a clear leader in the race for the Jumps Jockeys Premiership.
He won the Grand National Hurdle on Tallyho Twinkletoe in 2019 when he was a New Zealand based jockey.
Kuru bided his time on San Remo and was second last coming into the straight and was still well back before the last hurdle. Kuru then pushed him through on the inside and he ran down the consistent Count Zero.
Kuru moved to Australia two years ago and he said he had become more in love with jumps racing here as time went on.
Kuru also thanked Smith and San Remo’s connections for waiting for him to accept the ride after he looked at another option.
“I found myself in an awful spot throughout, I was never comfortable but the horse was always comfortable as he was jumping super,” Kuru said on Racing.com.
Smith thanked the connections of San Remo for sticking with him and not sendingchim to a bigger stable.
The Stawell based trainer, who also celebrated his 53rd birthday on the day, said it was the highlight of his career.
Smith was in awe of the ride of Kuru saying he didn’t give up on San Remo even when his opposition got away from him before the turn.
Smith said San Remo was such a tough horse who won the first jumps race of the year and he would be in action in the final race of the season which would be the Grand National Steeplechase.
“After his fall in the Annual last year, we thought we’d stick to the hurdling and he’s just come up trumps.”
Kuru will try and emulate his history making performance of 2019 when he rode Tallyho Twinkletoe to win the Grand National Hurdle and also the Grand National Steeplechase as that will be San Remo’s next start.
The win of the meeting went to the new superstar of jumps racing Stern Idol who emulated the horse the race was named after when he won the Crisp Steeplechase (4200 metres) by 25 lengths.
His jockey Willie McCarthy described Stern Idol as a “as a 17.2 hands, 1200 pound monster.”
McCarthy led throughout on the former French galloper and raced away from his rivals from the 1000 metres mark.
Declan Maher, who is the jumps manager for his brother Ciaron and David Eustace, said that performance was enough to persuade him to take him to the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on August 27.
McCarthy and Maher said the Grand National Steeplechase was 4500 metres which was only another 300 metres on a flatter track.
“It was a fantastic ride by Willie. He put the hammer down when he wanted to do,” Maher said.
The only blot on Stern Idol’s copybook was his failure in the Grand Annual Steeplechase when he didn’t handle the track according to Maher.
Stern Idol is raced by Jayco’s Gerry Ryan with a number of his friends including former AFL footballer Sam Kekovich, News Limited executive Peter Blunden, champion tennis player Frank Sedgeman, rugby administrator John Ribot De Bresac and former Fitzroy Football club President Leon Weigard.
The best finish of the day in the jumps racing was the finish of the Benchmark 120m hurdle (3400m) when Cleaver ridden by Tommy Ryan defied a strong challenge from Campbell Rawiller’s mount Dashing Willoughby who raced greenly in the closing stages.
Champion former jumps jockey Brett Scott said it was a great ride from Ryan.
Scott said he had been sent Cleaver to train from his long-time mentor John Wheeler from New Zealand.
He said he was happy to keep at hurdle races this season but next year he would make a fantastic steeplechaser.