Mark Newnham, the stable foreman for Gai Waterhouse, has revealed that retirement may be considered for veteran gelding Kontiki Park if he fails to perform in the ATC Membership On Sale Now Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Kontiki Park has performed consistently at Group level throughout his career but failed to fire during his winter campaign; producing less than stellar performances in the Sydney Markets Limited Handicap (1400m), Natski Handicap (1500m), Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) and the Coffs Harbour Cup (1600m).
Newnham told Racing Ahead that the entire stable was disappointed with Kontiki Park’s performances during his last campaign and admitted that the eight-year-old may be reaching the end of his racing career, which has included 38 starts.
“He just didn’t really come up and that is unusual for him,” Newnham said.
“He is an older horse that always paid his way each preparation and whether he is telling us now that he is closer to retirement the sides of things or whether it was a prep in which he just wasn’t at his best, we are not sure.
“His work indicates that he still wants to be there and he still wants to do it but with those older horses you want to put them in competition to test whether they still have the mettle for it.”
Kontiki Park was outclasssed in his only appearance in a Group 1 event, finishing at the tail of the field in the 2012 Epsom Handicap (1600m), but performed well without winning at Group level; finishing second behind Monton in the 2011 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) and second behind Tagus in the 2012 Group 3 Tramway Handicap (1400m).
The Thorn Park gelding broke through for his maiden black type win with a narrow victory over Fillydelphia and Emvoss in the Listed Bernborough Handicap (1615m) at Doomben on December 31 2011 and scored another big win when he took out the Magic Millions Stayers Cup (1800m) a fortnight later.
Kontiki Park has previously recorded three wins from six first-up appearances, taking out races at Newcastle, Warwick Farm and Rosehill Gardens, but will need to produce a strong performance to be competitive this weekend against a field that includes the Darley duo of Limes and Babel as well as Chris Waller-trained Disciple, veteran gelding Zaratone and imported galloper Fulgur.