Direct will line up in Heat 12 of the Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge this week
By Ben Caluzzi
Home Affairs, Paulele, General Beau, Profiteer. They are just four of the superstar colts that the Lloyd Kennewell trained Direct has had the unlucky pleasure of bumping into thus far in his career.
Whilst only a one-time winner from eight race starts himself, the son of champion French sire Siyouni has competed and placed behind the best juveniles in Australia and should find this week’s first up assignment at The Valley far easier – Heat 12 of the Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge.
A Class 1 contest where all his rivals share the same winning record as he, Direct’s 70 rating is four points clear of the next best horse and he has been rightfully allocated the topweight of 62.5kg, but after scouting leading apprentice Josh Richards he will carry a more manageable 60.5kg.
Last seen at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day where he pushed the speedy Profiteer to a one-and-a-half length margin, Kennewell admits Direct is the horse they have to beat this week, but certainly isn’t jumping to conclusions despite his class formlines.
“I’d be hard pressed seeing a horse going to that that race with his formlines,” Kennewelll said.
“We don’t take anything for granted obviously. It’s a race and there are going to be a few competitors there on Friday night and things have got to go right.”
“But I think if he does everything right, he’ll be extremely hard to beat.”
Direct made his debut at The Valley back in the Spring of 2020 where he was runner-up to last weekend’s Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes winner Paulele. He later split the well fancied Jigsaw and Rock Artist for another unlucky second placing here and seems to handle the track with great aplomb.
Given a few months to develop in the paddock, Kennewell says Direct has come back bigger and stronger as an Autumn three-year-old and thinks this campaign could well be the making of him – starting with this week’s race at The Valley.
“He’s gone from a boy to a man this preparation. He’s really strengthened up in all areas across the body, in particular through the chest and the shoulder.
“He’s a horse who’s really thickened up and I think that’s been a massive benefit after stopping with him after Melbourne Cup Day.”
Originally from Adelaide, Lloyd Kennewell made the bold move to Melbourne in 2018 and tasted instant success with multiple Group 1 winning mare Viddora. A desperately unlucky second in the 2017 Group 1 Moir Stakes before conquering the race the following year, Kennewell is now hoping Direct can be the horse to take him to that race again in 2022.
“That night was terrific (2018 Moir Stakes), it was obviously a night that you won’t forget in a long time.
“We obviously got the result and she beat now the best sprinter in the world in Nature Strip, so it was a very good night.
“But we don’t look back too much. We look forward and we’re trying to find the next one so hopefully Direct can take us to that race at some stage, you never know.”
Built for pace and rippling with muscle, Direct looks tailor made for the 955 metres this week at The Valley and should feel right at home having raced here twice already. His recent trial win at his home track Cranbourne gave every indication that he has come back super this preparation, and Kennewell will be hoping he can use his best assets to make a winning return on Friday.
“I think horses who have natural speed in short races can make their own luck and hopefully we can see him do that on Friday night.
“He’ll cart Josh around and hopefully he’s too strong for them because he’s a nice speedy horse and he’ll put himself right there.”
Friday night’s race will determine just where Direct heads to next this campaign, but Kennewell hasn’t ruled out more black-type targets including a possible trip interstate in the months to come.