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Beaten in his semi-final just as Nature Strip was, James McDonald is expecting Zaaki to rebound in the Cox Plate

Fresh off claiming The Everest aboard Nature Strip, James Mcdonald has now switched his attention to winning the Cox Plate with Zaaki.

McDonald arrived in Melbourne on Sunday and is currently undergoing six-days quarantine before he can ride at The Valley on Saturday.

He also needs to provide two clear COVID tests before he can partner the Annabel Neasham-trained Zaaki in the Group 1 weight-for-age championship at The Valley.

McDonald expects Zaaki to bounce back after the import was relegated into third place behind Probabeel and Nonconformist in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 9.

At Zaaki’s previous outing, the gelding comfortably defeated Probabeel in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on September 25.

With McDonald stuck in Sydney for those two races, Craig Williams had the mount with that jockey, a two-time winner of the Cox Plate, switching to the Goldolphin colt Anamoe for James Cummings on Saturday.

Zaaki holds 2021 Cox Plate favouritism at $2.80 with TAB ahead of Anamoe at $4.

“I think he has more to offer,” McDonald told RSN.

“He won the Sandown race in good style by a few lengths, but Caulfield tripped him up a bit last time and I’m hoping he can bounce back at The Valley on a forgiving surface.

“It looks like we’re going to get a little rain during the week which will only help and if he bounces back to his Sandown form then he’ll be very hard to beat.

“Nature Strip got beat in his semi-final, so I’m hoping Zaaki can do the same.”

Zaaki worked at The Valley on Saturday morning and McDonald said he looked comfortable in his work out while he is down to attend The Valley again on Tuesday morning for the “Breakfast with the Best” gallops.

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