Coach Annabel Neasham is cautiously optimistic that the sensational Zaaki can continue his winning streak when he recovers in the $ 2,200,000 Tramway Stakes (1,400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Zaaki, the former England stakes winner, made a stunning impact in his first Australian racing campaign last fall, winning his last three starts, including a seventh length in the Group 1 Doomben Cup.
Although Zaaki’s best form is in the middle distances – he finished unranked in four starts at 1,400m – the seven-year-old is so highly rated that the TAB Fixed Odds price evaluators set him the favorite at 2, $ 80 for the streetcar.
“Zaaki had a jump last week, he was good and it’s a great race to throw him,” said Neasham.
“Is he sharp enough to win over 1400m, I don’t know? We started it a mile (1600m) in the fall and it was doing its best job late.
“He’s certainly not completely liquidated yet, but I think he will be very competitive.”
Neasham wants to assess Zaaki’s comeback run before locking down the gelding’s spring schedule, though she wants to try and avoid an early spring carnival clash with her teammate Mo’unga, the first Winx winner. Group 1 stakes. In other big race Randwick news:
■ World’s best sprinter Nature Strip rose to the rank of favorite at $ 1.40 for Group 3 $ 160,000 Concorde Stakes (1000m).
The Wild Ruler formed by Peter and Paul Snowden has options in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday as he pushes for a place on Everest. Image: Getty Images
■ Coaches Peter and Paul Snowden decide if Wild Ruler can improve their Everest claims by taking on Nature Strip or sending the sprinter to Moonee Valley for the McEwen Stakes.
■ Najamaty, a Wild Ruler teammate, confirmed his favoritism at $ 4.50 for the $ 200,000 Furious Stakes in Group 2 (1200m).
■ Nash Rawiller recovered from a foot injury and returned to horseback riding on Saturday where his mounts included Think It Over in the $ 2,250,000 Chelmsford Stakes Group (1,600m).
Jason Collett is another jockey who kind of makes a comeback at Randwick’s reunion, who has some really good rides including She’s Ideel (Chelmsford Stakes) and Mallory (Furious Stakes).
Collett won’t ride until Saturday after partner Clare Cunningham gave birth to baby girl Scarlet Nini Collett earlier this week.
Coach Clare Cunningham and her fiancé, jockey Jason Collett, with their newborn daughter Scarlet Nini Collett. Photo: Facebook
The couple were inspired to name their first child in honor of former ATC social media manager Nini Vascotto, who sadly passed away last Friday.
“Fortunately, Clare was fortunate enough to ask Nini (to name their baby after her) before she passed away,” said Collett.
“While it would have been nice for her to meet Scarlet, it’s nice to know that it meant so much to Nini before she passed away.”
■ Meanwhile, Queensland’s flying machine Rothfire continued their brilliant barrier test form and are getting closer to securing a berth on Everest with another impressive victory at Doomben on Tuesday.
Coach Robert Heathcote has confirmed that Rothfire is set to make his long-awaited return to racing in the $ 2,500,000 group The Shorts (1,100m) at Royal Randwick on September 11th.