Kingsford-Smith Cup: New Zealand jockey Mark Du Plessis on hunt for first Australian Group 1 success

Mark Du Plessis reckons the biggest payday he has had in an Australian Group 1 was when partnering Kiwi stayer Pentathlon into ninth in Almandin’s 2016 Melbourne Cup.

But the Queensland jockey, who has had success all around the world, is hoping that will change and he can crack his first Aussie Group 1 win with Victorem in Saturday’s Kingsford-Smith Cup or next month’s rich Stradbroke Handicap.

“I’m looking for Group 1 (win) number 20 but my first in Australia and I would be absolutely over the moon if I could do it on this horse,” Du Plessis, the Zimbabwe-born former Kiwi rider who now calls Queensland home, said.

“The biggest earn I have had from a Group 1 in Australia was in the 2016 Melbourne Cup.

“Victorem does give me the feel of a Group 1 horse, he has got more than enough ability to go and win a Group 1.”

Victorem might hail from Jenny Graham’s Port Macquarie stable but is almost an adopted Queenslander, having had 10 of his 23 career starts in the Sunshine State.

The now six-year-old gelding first ventured to Queensland in 2018 and enjoyed his biggest career win last year when claiming the Group 2 Victory Stakes with Du Plessis riding.

Victorem has not finished closer than eighth in three starts at Group 1 level but Du Plessis has no doubt he can reel off a win at racing’s highest level.

Mark Du Plessis piloting Victorem to a win in the Victory Stakes last year. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

His confidence grew when partnering him in a 4½-length trial romp at Deagon on May 18.

“I don’t really know what he beat in that trial, I was concentrating on my horse, but all I can say is he felt very similar to what he felt when he produced his best win in the Victory (last year),” Du Plessis said.

“The Kingsford-Smith Cup is no easy race but he has drawn soft (barrier two) so he should get a nice enough run.”

As Du Plessis strives for his first Australian Group 1 win, Victorem is rated a $17 chance in Saturday’s Kingsford-Smith Cup and a $34 chance in the $1.5 million Stradbroke on June 12.

Victorem currently sits 20th in ballot order for the Stradbroke and is weighted with 54kg in Queensland’s most prestigious race.

Originally published asTop Kiwi hoop on hunt for first Aussie Group 1

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