The way Tena Koutou came through his Aquanita Stakes (2000m) victory has trainer Adam Durrant upbeat about his chances of taking out a feature race double at Belmont Park.
Tena Koutou dominated the Aquanita Stakes a fortnight back and enhanced his staying credentials when he surged clear over the final stages to defeat Crescent City by two lengths.
Durrant says Tena Koutou has continued to thrive and after answering a distant test in the Aquanita Stakes he will appreciate further ground in the Drummond Golf Belmont Classic (2200m).
“Everything is in order,” Durrant told Tabradio.
“Going into that last run the jury was still out, he had only won in weaker grade, so it was always going to be a question mark.
“It was a race which it was time for the good ones to put their hands up or more genuine stayers.
“He seemed to fit that category and ran through the line strong.
“Basically, horses that were on his back at the 200m he was running away from.
“But it looks like he has come through it in flying colours to my eyes.
“He looks better and better as he is progressing through his prep.”
Durrant believes Chilli Is Hot, from the in-form Graeme Ballantyne stable, poses the biggest threat to Tena Koutou.
The Gingerbread Man filly displayed fighting qualities to defeat Sheza Chalmer by a half-head in the Belmont Oaks (2000m).
“I do have plenty of respect for the others,” Durrant said.
“Graeme Ballantyne’s horse is in great form and she loves the sting out of the track.
“She beat a very good horse the other day, you can’t underestimate her credentials.
“There are a couple of others who look like they will get the trip.
“It will be an interesting race, but I certainly wouldn’t be swapping him for anything else.”
In a field of six Tena Koutou starts from barrier two. Clint Johnston-Porter will again ride the son of Blackfriars.
Durrant is eager for Tena Koutou to underline his staying strength.
“At some point if it’s not a staying test we will make it one,” Durrant said.
“We would be silly to ride him like a sit and sprint horse.”
Tena Koutou is the $2.35 Tabtouch favourite. Chilli Is Hot is next at $4.80.
Durrant can claim a fourth Belmont Classic after winning it previously with Come Play With Me (2018), Summah’s Touch (2013) and Lords Ransom (2007).