Zaaki’s Cox Plate bid will intensify on Friday, with Annabel Neasham’s All Star Mile winner being judged against Group 1 stars Fireburn, Fangirl and Hinged at Rosehill.
speaking on Raceday Live from Racing.com On Thursday, Neasham said the star import had been gaining form at a rapid pace since returning to work and was “ahead of schedule” in its spring preparation.
The coach has confirmed the perennial eight-year-old is on track to kick off his spring campaign again in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) next month.
“He’s awesome,” Neasham said.
“He will be tried tomorrow at Rosehill.
“As always, it arrives much faster than expected.
“The plan is to start in the Tramway, which is the same race he ran first at this time last year and he’s well ahead of schedule for that.
“Maybe next year we’ll get him in time for the Winx Stakes, but we still got pretty deep into winter with him, so it was important to give him a break.
“The ultimate goal and grand finale of this campaign will be the Cox Plate, so I think those extra few weeks in the paddock will have served him well.”
WATCH: Cox Plate Grand Final for Zaaki.
Whether Zaaki races in Melbourne before the Cox Plate will depend on track conditions in Sydney, with a defense of his Underwood Stakes title on the cards if Sydney’s wet weather continues into the spring.
“It will depend on the weather and the beauty is that there is a great program in both locations,” she said.
“We will definitely start in Sydney and at this stage I expect him to be fourth in the Cox Plate.
“Last year he won the Underwood and that’s definitely an option, just like the George Main Stakes here.”
Mo’unga will also try at Rosehill on Friday, with Neasham reporting that Cox Plate’s fourth setter of last year is working harder than he ever did before his first run in the Group 1 Winx Stakes on Saturday the week.
Meanwhile, the coach has confirmed that the Group 1 Top Ranked import is back to work after a minor injury setback and is set to resume in September or early October.