Tomorrow's Awapuni race meeting marks 12 months since jumps jockey Aaron Kuru and steeplechaser Des De Jeu became the talk of the racing world and the duo will be reunited when they contest the L J Hooker Manawatu Steeplechase (4200m).

The low-key rider became a media sensation after staging one of the most remarkable comebacks ever witnessed on a racecourse.

Kuru and Des De Jeu fell at the first of 13 jumps to seemingly extinguish his prospects in a maiden steeplechase.

But showing incredible horsemanship, Kuru was able to keep hold of the horse's reins and remount the jumper as he scrambled to his feet. Despite losing more than 10 lengths, the pair went onto win by half a length.


Kuru rode Des De Jeu twice last season and greeted the judge first on both occasions, but he isn't expecting the winning run to continue when the gelding steps out in an open steeplechase for the first time this year.

"It will be his third run for the prep. He had one run on the flat leading into last Saturday's third in the maiden hurdle," Kuru, who partnered No Tip to victory in that event, said.

"Looking at the replay, it was a really good third. He should be thereabouts on Saturday but we will be trying to get him back and settle him and find the line late."

An all-round good sport, Kuru has previously represented New Zealand at softball and revealed he has recently ventured back into one of his favourite pastimes.

"I took a few years off from softball because I wasn't enjoying it like I used to," he said.

"I got back into it again over the summer at a club up in Northcote on Auckland's North Shore. They got hold of me and managed to twist my arm.

"I actually really enjoyed it and we had a great season. I will be going back again this summer.

"It is quite demanding like any kind of sport and it is pretty hard to perform at the top level when I am trying to ride because I have to keep the weight down."


Kuru said he did not harbour ambitions of representing his country again at softball but was loving watching his friends compete on the world stage.

Iain Hyndman's Awapuni Tips

1: Zedeedudadeeko, Spithill, Eddie Gilbert
2: Lovetokeephim, Mesmerize, Medini
3: El Corby, Bay Rocker, Max
4: Dez, Rosewood, So It Was
5: Wise Men Say, Des De Jeu, Gagarin
6: Whatsup, Lincoln Hills, Rufus Ruffcut
7: Magic Ivan, Very Appealing, Happy Star
Best Bet: El Corby (R3)

– NZ Racing Desk