The rescheduled Group 1 $1 million Doomben Cup (2100m) headlines a bumper’s day racing at Eagle Farm on Saturday after a week’s hiatus due to the weather, and hot favourite Zaaki is firming along with the track to go back-to-back in the weight-for-age feature.
After last weekend’s washout and subsequent mid-week Doomben cancelation, three of the Doomben Cup Day races now take place on a 10-race Queensland Derby Day card.
Of those, the punters are most excited for the Doomben Cup where the Annabel Neasham-trained star import Zaaki faces nine rivals from the outside barrier.
Last winter he took out the Hollindale – Doomben Cup – The Q22 treble and, after successfully defending his title in the first leg last start at the Gold Coast, he looks prime to win the second this weekend.
The class horse in the race, Zaaki gets conditions to suit at Eagle Farm with the track at a Soft (5) and sunny skies suggesting there could be further upgrades before race time tomorrow.
That is ideal according to jockey James McDonald who could not be more confident following a Tuesday track gallop at Eagle Farm.
“This track (Eagle Farm) will suit him perfectly,” he told Sky Racing.
“Annabel has brought him here three times now. He is very familiar with it, and it was great to get him back on it today. It is obviously a nice, safe surface and he had an extremely good morning.
“I was very with happy with him. He wasn’t out to do a hell of a lot. He just cruised through his paces over 1000m … came home in 24.5 or 25.
“He felt terrific, and he has pulled up extremely well, so he is ticking along beautifully.”
The punters agree with Zaaki crunched in Doomben Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au now into $1.40 to become the first dual winner since the Rough Habit three-peat between 1991-93.
The only other runner under double-figures chasing an upset is Chris Waller’s A.D. Hollindale Stakes runner-up, Polly Grey, at $9.50 to turn the tables on her last start conqueror.
The classy grey daughter of Azamour has been very good at her latest two outings.
She won Randwick’s Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) by over five lengths on a Heavy (8) on All Aged Stakes Day before finishing under a length back in the Hollindale on May 7.
Her Eagle Farm record has her unplaced in two previous runs however and the advantage would have been hers on heavier going.
Master Sydney horseman launches a four-pronged attack on Zaaki in the Doomben Cup field with Polly Grey joined in the line-up by Chairman’s Handicap winner Yonkers, William Pike’s mount Great House and Kukeracha.
Of those, Kukeracha presents as the potential value at Doomben Cup odds of $15.
Jumping from gate five with James Orman in the saddle, the Night Of Thunder four-year-old has a strong Eagle Farm track record (4:2-0-1) and was a surprise third-placegetter in the Hollindale at 40/1 last time out.
This time last year Kukeracha stole the show with a narrow Group 1 Queensland Derby victory over the fellow Waller-trained Senor Toba, and returning to glory in the Doomben Cup would be a fairy-tale result for connections.
Of the roughie hopes, trainer Andrew Forsman believes 2020 Caulfield Cup place-getter The Chosen One could present as an underrated threat on the going.
The six-year-old son of Savabeel has raced against the best stayers both here and in New Zealand plenty of times and now chases his first win since January’s Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) back home.
After a Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) third to Duais at Newcastle over the autumn, he was last seen falling apart when 18th on a Heavy (10) in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) during Randwick’s The Championships.
Forsman, who formerly trained the horse in partnership with Murray Baker, is happy to forgive the that run where the horse missed the kick and suffered from breathing issues throughout, and is happy to have in racing at Eagle Farm.
“It’s good for The Chosen One … getting to Eagle Farm is the key for him,” Forsman told Racing.com.
“He went to Eagle Farm for a good hit-out on Tuesday morning. He is as good as he can be.”
The Doomben Cup 2022 is scheduled as Eagle Farm Race 5 at 1:28pm (AEST) on the bumper 10-race ‘Super Saturday’ card in Brisbane.