Katsu lands the Kensington Stakes 2023 first-up

A planned attack by the Grahame Begg stable on a Stakes race first-up at Flemington has paid off with the victory of Katsu.

The lightly raced sprinter took out the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) on Wednesday which may set the galloper up for a tilt at tougher sprint races in the autumn.

Ridden by Jordan Childs, Katsu ($7) led throughout in scoring a 1-¼ length win from the $2.60 wagering sites favourite Najem Suhail with Rich Fortune ($3.80) a half-length away third.

Begg stable representative Rohan Hughes said Wednesday’s race was targeted as a first-up assignment as a way of boosting the gelding’s rating to get into bigger autumn sprints.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Hughes said.

“You have to come and prove yourself, but on top of it you get a better rating out of it.”

Hughes did not nominate which autumn sprints Begg may target, but races over the short course at Flemington and in particular Caulfield could be on the agenda.

“Grahame has been very keen to test him down the straight as he’s always thought he would be a good straight horse,” Hughes said.

“He had one run down the straight before, that was on soft ground, and he drew the wrong side.

“That day, he did what I thought he might do today, he got very aggressive, but I couldn’t believe how well he moderated himself today.

“Grahame’s got loftier plans for him, but we needed to see him do that today.”

Katsu has now won five of his 10 starts, but as a younger horse had been his own worst enemy.

Hughes said Katsu had been green in his races last campaign, but what impressed him the most on Wednesday was the way the gelding was able to control his speed throughout the contest.

“He’s a very raw horse, an incredible talent and has unbelievable speed that he shows behind the scenes, but a lot of hard work has gone into him,” Hughes said.

“Each time he has gone to the races, he has shown a little bit of improvement, and I was impressed with the way he controlled himself in the run.

“He had Najem Suhail eyeball him throughout the race, but he stayed relaxed and when Jordan asked for an effort, he really gave his all.

“He was on the minimum, but it was a Stakes race first-up for an inexperienced low-rating horse, so that was an impressive effort.”

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