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Booker will line up in Saturday's McNeil Stakes

Co-trainer Simon Zahra considers Booker the stable’s leading spring carnival hope.

Booker gets a chance to make an immediate impression on the opening weekend of spring in Saturday’s McNeil Stakes at Caulfield, although Zahra lamented a wide draw.

She is one of two fillies taking on male counterparts in the Group Three 1200m-race for three-year-olds and has the second outside barrier in the field of 10.

Zahra, who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said Booker was considered their best two-year-old last season and he is hopeful she can be a Thousand Guineas filly.

Booker won a two-year-old fillies Plate at Flemington on debut in May before a second in the Group Three National Stakes in Adelaide later that month.

A Thousand Guineas campaign is on the agenda if Booker shows she can settle enough to be effective over 1600m.

“If she does that we’ll head that way, and if not we’ll keep her to the sprints,” Zahra said.

Zahra feels Booker will get the Guineas distance and said jockey Dwayne Dunn was also of that belief after a recent jump-out.

Zahra said the trip away last preparation was good for the filly who is at $11 for the McNeil.

“She’s drawn poorly so you just need that little bit of luck early. But she’s a pretty good filly, I think,” he said.

The stable also has Sword Of Light and Crystal Dreamer resuming in the Group Three Cockram Stakes and The Heath, respectively, with Sword Of Light sprinting well fresh in the past while Zahra believes Crystal Dreamer has come back better this campaign ahead of his toughest test.

“I think he’s really improved,” Zahra said.

“His work and jump-outs have suggested it. He’s a horse who has won eight races, so he just seems a winner.

“It looks a quality race though. It’s the first time he’s met this sort of quality.”

 
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