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Royal Ascot off for Zaaki, back to Queensland for Hollindale Stakes and Doomben Cup

Zaaki’s connections have officially abandoned plans for a return to Royal Ascot with the star import a confirmed starter at this year’s Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.

Trainer Annabel Neasham on Friday announced via social media that the gelding would aim to defend his Hollindale Stakes and Doomben Cup crowns in preference to June’s esteemed Royal Ascot meeting.

“A decision with connections has been made that Zaaki will remain here and head to the Hollindale (Stakes), Doomben Cup with James McDonald booked to ride,” Neasham tweeted.

“Royal Ascot could well be on the cards next year.”

The news resulted in Zaaki tightening from $2.30 in to $1.90 in TAB’s market on the Doomben Cup (2000m), which will be run on May 21.

The $300,000 Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) will be run at the Gold Coast on May 7.

Zaaki’s brave second placing in the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 9 prompted Neasham and connections to consider a trip back to England for Zaaki, who finished third in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes (2004m) at Royal Ascot in 2018.

The son of Leroidesaniaux came to Australia midway through the 2020/21 racing season and has won seven of his 12 starts, including the Doomben Cup, Underwood Stakes (1800m) and Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Group 1 level along with the $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m).

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