Former Champion New Zealand jumps jockey Aaron Kuru has enjoyed being home for the last couple of weeks, and the Melbourne-based hoop is hoping to end his trip with a couple of feature jumping scalps at Te Rapa on Sunday.
The Niagara gelding has won his last four races, including The Pakuranga Hunt Hurdle (3200m) when ridden by Kuru earlier this month.
While his connections have been pleased with his progression this season, the jump from carrying 65kg to 69kg this weekend is their biggest concern.
“He has put a good record together and he looks good going forward,” Kuru said.
“He is definitely a leading contender, but he has jumped up four kilos, so there is a question mark around carrying the weight.
“Realistically he is only a first season jumper, so it is going to be a big ask for him to carry that weight over that distance, but we will find out on Sunday.”
In the meeting's other feature, the Ben Foote Racing Great Northern Steeplechase (6500m), Kuru will partner former race winner Magic Wonder, who he rode to a runner-up result for trainer Jo Rathbone behind race rival No Tip in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4800m) last start.
“She won the race a couple of years ago and she wasn't around last year,” Kuru said.
“She looks like she had needed all of her races this year to get fit for this race.
“It is going to be another big ask for her to step up over a bit further ground, but if she is good enough she will be there.”
Kuru has two further rides on the 10-race card, including The Mighty Spar in the Fairview Motors Maiden Hurdle (2800m) for trainer Mark Walker, and Suffice To Say in the Te Aroha Jockey Club Stallion Service Scheme Steeplechase (3900m) for Team Rogerson.
“I popped over to Matamata this morning and The Mighty Spar schooled well. He is well educated and jumped around nicely,” Kuru said.
“Looking at the field, it looks very competitive and watching the season unfold, the maiden hurdles look like the hardest races to win.
“If he shows up and puts his best foot forward, he should be thereabouts.
“Suffice To Say is an old mate of mine. I was talking with Michelle (Northcott, part-owner) at the Pakuranga meeting and she asked if I could ride him.
“I have ridden him a few times and have been lucky enough to win on him, so I am happy enough to do that for Michelle.”
Kuru is set to fly home the day after the Great Northern meeting, but he said he is enjoying his time so much in his homeland he might stick around for a while longer.
“I have been loving it, it is always good being back home to see family and friends,” he said.
“My flight is booked for Monday, but I am not sure I will get on it just yet, I am enjoying myself, so I might hang around for a couple of more days.”