All the right signs from Kowalski in dominant Ouyen Cup win

Trouble-prone Victorian pacer Kowalski Analysis signaled a return to his brilliant best might not be far away, after a dominant display in the Greggs Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup on Sunday.

Harness racing.
Harness racing. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

It was western district reinswoman Jackie Barker's first time on the seven-year-old, but she was right at home with a perfectly-executed drive from a tricky back-row draw on the tight Ouyen circuit.

"There was a bit of early tempo and a few moves really helped get us into the race," Barker said.

Kowalski Analysis was allowed to settle at the rear of the field from his barrier 8 (SR2) draw, while Jaxon Beach (Ryan Backhouse) cruised to the front.  Early moves by Im Blingin It (Neil McCallum) and Major Meister (Michelle Phillips) ensured a quick early tempo, and Barker waited until the 600 metre mark before launching on Kowalski Analysis.

"We were sort of relying on things to go like that, and it worked out really well," Barker said.

"I love coming to Ouyen and I love racing at these little tracks.  It's always so tactical and it was fantastic to get back up here," she said.

The victory gave Barker two Ouyen Pacing Cups in succession after winning last year's feature on Double The Hunter for Maryborough trainer Tim Mortlock.

The win was the first for Kowalski Analysis since January last year and was return to the region for the Lewis brothers, who grew up in the district at Ultima, near Swan Hill.

"As a young teenager I would go to the Ouyen Cup meeting with Dad and saw horses of the ilk of New Kiwi, Natty Kiwi, Vychan and later Globe Score, Royal Gaze and Imprimartar win (the cup)," Terry Lewis posted on social media.

"I always thought how big it would be to win an Ouyen Cup," he said.

Among the best of his three-year-old year in Victoria, Kowalski Analysis finished 5th in the 2020 Vicbred Super Series Final and the following year was third in the 2021 edition of the Chariots of Fire, just meters behind Expensive Ego and Zeuss Bromac.

But he has been plagued by health issues which began after his Chariots of Fire campaign. He spent nearly 12 months off the scene, and the fact that the pacer made it back at all is testament to the persistence of trainer David Lewis and a radical treatment by his veterinarian wife Kristabel.

"The horse was very crook after he came back from Sydney.  There was a lot going on, but the worst of it was that he had bacteria in his stomach that made it impossible for him to hold anything in – everything would basically come straight through," David Lewis said at the time.

"It meant he couldn't stay hydrated when he was so loose.  Kristabel did a lot of work with him to get him right and tried so many things, but the turning point was really when she decided to try something a bit radical, which was drenching him with manure from a healthy horse.

"The idea is that it reintroduces good bacteria to the horse's gut to allow the system to fight back.  He seemed a little bit better and a little bit better and then started to come good."

It took more than six months to get Kowalski Analysis back to full health – but he bounced back in late 2022 with three wins and two seconds from five starts, including two metropolitan class victories and a win in the Stawell Cup.

The latter part of his campaign in 2023 was disappointing however, and Lewis gave the pacer another extended break and long preparation before a first-up second in the Mount Gambier Cup (Mar 16) and now his Ouyen victory.

"We've had our troubles with this horse over the time – he's certainly had a few niggles but overall, he is a real trier," part-owner Paul Lewis said at the post-race presentation.

"But long term hopefully this is a first step to getting him back to some better metro races and we will just see what happens from here.

"We really appreciated the opportunity to come here today though.  It's a great race and a great environment and setting and the track was a treat."