‘Fresh’ Zaaki ready for Doomben Cup defence

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Zaaki wins AD Hollindale Stakes

Following another win in the Hollindale Stakes, star galloper Zaaki is back to defend his crown in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) this Saturday at Doomben.

In the 2021 edition of the Doomben Cup, Zaaki thrashed his rivals winning by seven lengths, and his odds suggest that a similar showing could be on the cards this weekend.

Upon dismounting after the Hollindale, winning rider James McDonald said that the seven-year-old was very fresh, so trainer Annabel Neasham has tried to knock the freshness out of the odds-on favourite with two gallops on the course proper at Eagle Farm on Saturday and Tuesday.

2021 Doomben Cup (2000m) | Doomben | Zaaki (1st)

“Second time in a week – he came Saturday as well,” Neasham told Sky.

“It’s a fantastic track here. It’s probably the only grass in Queensland at the moment. He’s always galloped on the grass, so I didn’t want to change it up with having him on the synthetic.

“He wasn’t out there to break any records, but he had his ears pricked the whole way and really enjoyed.”

Set to jump from barrier three on Saturday for James McDonald, Zaaki looks to be the natural leader in the $1 million event, while second favourite and wet-track specialist Polly Grey is likely to have a forward showing.

Although Zaaki defeated Polly Grey on a Heavy track at the Gold Coast a fortnight ago, Neasham says she would prefer a drier surface for Saturday’s Group 1 event.

2022 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) | Gold Coast | Zaaki (1st)

“It’s probably not something I’d usually do (gallop a horse twice in four days), but he’s very fresh and I probably had him a little too fresh in the Hollindale,” the trainer said.

“I think JMac said he needed a seatbelt and he just travelled a bit keenly as well. Hopefully that’s just knocked the edge off him as well.

“Obviously these tracks are quite testing at the moment, so they need to be fit. It’s not really fitness for him that I’m worried about, it’s more just actually knocking the freshness off him.

“Going into the Queen Elizabeth, I wasn’t confident at all that he’d handle it (Heavy tracks) because the connections in England said he didn’t really like it and he never raced on it over there, so I assume they figured that out from his work perhaps.

“He obviously handled it in the Queen Elizabeth.”

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