A pleasing barrier trial in Sydney has jockey Stephen Baster upbeat about the prospects of Zululand claiming a rare Sires’ Produce Stakes double.
Baster rides the colt in Saturday’s $1 million Group One Sires’ Produce at Randwick, with the David Hayes-trained youngster out to become the first horse since Full On Aces in 1981 to add the Sires’ Produce in Sydney to victory in the VRC Sires’ Produce in Melbourne.
Zululand hasn’t started since finishing strongly to win the Group Two Sires’ Produce (1400m) at Flemington on March 8 by 1-1/2 lengths.
He did enough in winning a 1050m trial at Randwick last Friday for Baster to believe he was on target for Saturday’s assignment.
“He got back and finished off strongly and won his trial well,” Baster said.
“He covered a bit of ground and we wanted him to have a nice hit-out so it was a good trial leading towards the race.”
Zululand is at $15 in TAB betting with the Gerald Ryan-trained Believe Yourself, fourth in Saturday’s Golden Slipper, the favourite at $4.60.
Baster believes Zululand is a genuine chance.
“I think the Melbourne horses, just looking at the Slipper, the form from down here stood up quite well up there,” Baster said.
“There’s no dead-set standout and everything he has done, he has done right. So I think he’s right in it.”
Baster has ridden Zululand in three of his four starts and has always had a good opinion of the Fastnet Rock colt, which fetched $1.5 million as a yearling.
The jockey would love to snare a Group One in a season where he has already been a constant in the winner’s circle in Melbourne juvenile races.
Baster has partnered two-year-olds Zululand, Clifton Red, Eloping, Chivalry, Tawteen, Veuvelicious and Lady Trickster to metropolitan wins.
“This is my first full season since getting back from Singapore. It’s good to be getting a bit of support and obviously it helps getting on the faster young horses on the way up,” he said.
What the jockey is unsure about is how Zululand would perform if the track was wet on Saturday.
“I’ve got no idea,” he said.