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Image: Darren Winningham

“Any win by any margin would be fine by me.”

That was trainer Anabel Neasham’s summing up of the hopes and expectations for her superstar Zaaki’s mission at Doomben on Saturday where the high quality seven-year-old will step out to defend his Group 1 Doomben Cup crown.

Zaaki’s spectacular, runaway seven length win in the race last year came on the back of his win in the Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast … and Zaaki already has the Hollindale double safely in the bank after her triumph there earlier this month.

Should he again complete the Hollindale / Doomben Cup double this year Zaaki will earn a $200 000 bonus which, added to the prize-money of the two races, would give his connections a cool $1.1 million in stake earnings in just fifteen days. That would have Zaaki closing in on $8million in overall earnings.

Who says you can’t make money owning racehorses?

Including that recent Hollindale win, Zaaki has raced nine times since last year’s Doomben Cup romp for Group 1 wins in the Underwood and the McKinnon … and the All Star Mile … as well as Group 2 wins in the Q22 and the Tramway. His placed runs include a second place in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (when only beaten by an outrageous ride by Nash Rawiller on Think It Over) and a third place in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes … and remember, Zaaki was the favourite for the Cox Plate when he was scratched on race-day morning.

So, there is no question about Zaaki being the best credentialled horse in the Doomben Cup on Saturday.

Only one factor could even things about a bit and that could well come into play with rain forecast in Brisbane leading into Saturday.

And that is why Neasham will take any victory on the day.

“I’d rather a good 4 than a heavy 10, but he does get through it,” Neasham told Racenet. ‘He is certainly the class horse in the field, but there are obviously a few good wet-trackers in there.”

The Chris Waller trained Polly Grey, who finished second just 0.80 lengths off Zaaki in the Hollindale leads that ‘wet tracker’ category.

The mare has won five races on soft going and six races on heavy going and has finished in the top three in twenty of her twenty-eight starts on these two surfaces. She won the Group 3 JRA Plate at Randwick in her penultimate start and so logically rates as Zaaki’s biggest danger.

The New Zealand visitor Coventina Bay has won four out of nine starts on soft or heavy going while Kuckeracha (who finished third in the Hollindale) and Huetor are the others to have won on heavy going.

Taken overall though, it would be hard to bet against Zaaki at weight-for-age conditions and the $1.50 odds currently displayed about his chances, with Polly Grey being the only other runner quoted in single figures, would seem to accurately reflects the state of play going into the race … and, while Neasham will be happy with a victory achieved by any margin, don’t be too surprised if Zaaki wins by a wide margin again, just as he did last year.

Whatever the outcome, it is certainly a big plus for the Queensland Carnival to have Zaaki at Doomben where he will be a massive drawcard on the day.

 
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