Zaaki on track for Tramway Stakes return

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Image: Bruno Cannatelli

All eyes will be on Cox Plate’s whimsical Zaaki during Monday’s Hawkesbury barrier practice session

Annabel Neasham had some doubts about her decision not to target Zaaki at the Winx Stakes first, but she’s also convinced it was for the right reasons.

Neasham chose to follow a patient path with Zaaki this spring and follow a similar pattern to last year when he launched his Tramway Stakes (1400m) campaign after completing winter preparation in Brisbane.

As she wonders if he could have shaken up Saturday’s Group 1 Winx Stakes, Neasham remains focused on the horse’s primary focus and his unfinished business in the Cox Plate.

“I’m really kicking myself that I didn’t prep it for the Winx Stakes, but we got pretty far into the winter for the Doomben Cup, and that got delayed a week as well,” said said Neasham.

“It would have been a bit rushed and his ultimate goal is the Cox Plate, so we’ll use the tram as a stepping stone to something like the George Main (Stakes).”

Zaaki won the Tramway and Underwood Stakes last year and was favorite for the Cox Plate, but was scratched on race morning due to high temperatures.

He is due to make his second public appearance of the new season in a proper barrier trial at Hawkesbury on Monday with regular jockey James Mcdonald making the trip to Sydney’s west track to partner the eight-year-old.

Stablemate and Q22 winner Numerian is also set to return and will have a second try at the end of the month before returning to the Chelmsford or George Main Stakes, both run over a mile at Randwick in September.

Neasham will be hoping the import can continue his rise through the ranks to become a Caulfield Cup contender.

“He’s going to hopefully go for a Caulfield Cup, I think he’s that kind of horse,” Neasham said.

“He handled the firm track (in Q22) at Eagle Farm and I think a little extra distance won’t hurt him either.”

Numerian is $51 in early Caulfield Cup markets while Zaaki is a $6 second choice for the 2022 Cox Plate, behind brilliant Saturday Winx Stakes winner Anamoe ($4.50).

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