Zaaki once again proved he is one of the best thoroughbreds in Australia, leading all of the way to win the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick for the second consecutive year.
The Annabel Neasham-trained eight-year-old was resuming after his shock Doomben Cup in May, but after two positive trials, the short-priced favourite was ready to fire first-up over 1400m.
On a Cox Plate path, the son of Leroidesanimaux is now likely to head to the George Main Stakes in a fortnight over a mile, but Neasham is going to monitor him after what was a taxing run on a Heavy 10 surface.
“The forecast didn’t look too bad, we had him in the Feehan (Stakes in Melbourne) just in case,” Neasham said.
“He had to start somewhere and I said to James (McDonald), just look after him and the way the race slightly fell away in terms of numbers, it probably took a bit of pressure out of the race.
“I’d like to run him in the George Main but that’s a tough run first-up on that track so we’ll see how he comes through and work it out next week.”
Taking bad luck out of the equation from the point of the barriers opening was the tactical genius of champion hoop James McDonald, who controlled the race from the outset.
2022 Tramway Stakes Replay
Despite not being completely comfortable in the wet conditions, McDonald said the horse did it pretty comfortably in the end.
“He had to use all of his ability today to get through that track,” he said.
“Obviously the rail has helped him. He has done a really good job at the furlong to kick away with some really good horses chasing him.
“He was idling a fair way from home – he can do that when he is out in front – he switches off but he is a horse that finds under pressure but I couldn’t say that was his favourite ground.”
Zaaki remains on the second line of betting for the Cox Plate, but he has firmed into $4 with online bookmakers.