Kentucky Diva to make debut at Kembla Grange for Hawkes stable

Ready: Michael Hawkes, pictured with Entirely Platinum, believes first-starter Kentucky Diva can win at Kembla Grange. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Ready: Michael Hawkes, pictured with Entirely Platinum, believes first-starter Kentucky Diva can win at Kembla Grange. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Trainer Michael Hawkes is optimistic patience will pay off, when $280,000 yearling Kentucky Diva makes her debut as a four-year-old at Kembla Grange on Saturday.

While the Hawkes team has setup camp at the Magic Millions carnival on the Gold Coast this week, Michael will have one eye on the Fastnet Rock mare, who makes it to the track after eight trials in the past 18 months. 

“She’s just been a slow learner,” Hawkes said. 

“We haven’t had any issues with her, she’s a nice horse, just one of those slow maturing, staying types. 

“No doubt she’ll be looking for further, but it’s a nice race for her to run first-up over a mile.”

With jockey Chad Lever aboard in the Mullet Creek Mile Maiden Plate, Kentucky Diva opened a $5.50 joint favourite with the Mark Newnham-trained three-year-old colt Apache Junction.

The field combines for 87 previous starts, with just 14 minor placings among them.

Hawkes said Kentucky Diva has the breeding pedigree to push out to 2400m.

Kembla Grange trainers Robert and Luke Price will be hoping to break through at the 14th attempt in the same race, with Scott Pollard piloting Plea Bargain ($10), who was second to Newnham’s filly Righteousness at Kembla Grange on January 3.

The Hawkes stable will also has three-year-old filly Smart Enough in a 1300m Maiden at Kembla Grange on Saturday, in a wide open race of inexperienced runners.

Smart Enough was fifth at Wyong last month, finishing off well behind the leaders from a slow start. 

Later in the day, the Hawkes camp is confident three-year-old gelding Wild Heart ($13) will be in the finish in the 1400m Magic Millions Guineas at the Gold Coast, from a nice draw and with Brenton Avdulla aboard.

Wild Heart had a barrier trial on Monday at Rosehill, having won first-up at Wyong in December, beating Gary Portelli’s Single Bullet by half-a-length. 

“We’re a chance, he ran nicely first-up,” Hawkes said on Friday morning from the Gold Coast. 

“We’ve just come from the stables and he’s travelled up here nicely.”