After the news of Hitotsu’s career-threatening injury and Verry Elleegant’s move to Europe settled, things have been fairly quiet on the Melbourne Cup front.
Over at Eagle Farm however, plenty of Queensland-based horses showed up well on Doomben Cup day. Many performers in Brisbane may yet head to the Spring Carnival in Melbourne later in the year.
Zaaki Beaten at Odds-On in the Big One
Annabel Neasham’s Zaaki remains on course for the Cox Plate on October 23. Having come into the Group 1 Doomben Cup as a long odds-on favourite having landed the All-Star Mile, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Hollindale Stakes however, he suffered a shock reverse under James McDonald.
There was plenty of money for last year’s stunning seven-length winner. In what was a rescheduled running of the $1 million event over 2100 metres, Zaaki could only manage third.
Having looked awesome in the parade, many thought defeat was out of the question. Zaaki travelled very well during the race as well, following nicely in front-runner Polly Grey’s slipstream.
After hitting the straight, McDonald pushed Zaaki into the lead with 350 metres to go. It looked all over at that point, only for $16 chance Huetor to fly up the inner and grab the race under Kerrin McEvoy.
Improved performer Maximal ran on for an impressive second place at $34, with Zaaki eventually running home in third.
No doubt top English trainer Sir Michael Stoute would have been watching this result with great interest. Both Maximal and Zaaki were formerly trained by the Newmarket man who has the hot favourite in the Derby at Epsom in England later this week.
Now, Zaaki is playing catch-up but remains right near the head of the market for the Cox Plate in October.
Huetor was improving from a fourth-place finish in the Hollindale to land this Group 1. He too can head for the Cox Plate in the spring.
Pinarello and Apache Chase Also Land Group 1 Glory
Elsewhere on a fantastic card, two more Group 1 events were staged.
In the 2400-metre Queensland Derby Pinarello was a narrow winner for Roger James and Robert Wellwood. The first five home were all New Zealand breds. In behind Pinarello were Paternal and Caboche for Chris Waller, as well as favourite Dark Destroyer for Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott as well as Chris Munce’s Southern Stock.
The third Group 1 race was the 1200-metre Kingsford-Smith Cup. The event was won by Apache Chase by just a head, Godolphin’s Paulele running on for second.
How many runners from Doomben Cup day head to Melbourne remains to be seen. Whatever the number, the from looks solid and should be kept an eye on heading towards October and November.
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