Annabel Neasham’s champion import Zaaki is dominant favourite to successfully defend his title in the Group 1 $1 million Doomben Cup (2000m) this weekend in Brisbane.
Group 1 racing for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival heads to Doomben Racecourse on Saturday after last weekend’s Doomben 10,000 meeting took place at Eagle Farm due to heavy rainfall.
The action is headlined by the weight-for-age Doomben Cup where Zaaki will look to enjoy multiple wins for the first time since the Rough Habit three-peat in 1991-93.
It was a demolition job by the champ last season with Zaaki running his Doomben Cup rivals ragged by seven lengths.
He comes via the same lead-up win having gone back-to-back in the Gold Coast’s Group 2 A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) last start, and is in line for a $200,000 bonus for connections should he salute for the punters again in the Doomben Cup.
The now seven-year-old has the ideal barrier three draw in a small 10-horse field with James McDonald aboard, and is at a justifiably short quote of $1.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au in their latest Doomben Cup markets.
Neasham remains confident she has her gun galloper – Cox Plate bound again this spring following last year’s disappointing scratching on race morning – going as good as ever, but remains cautious about the Heavy track conditions in Brisbane.
“I don’t care if it is a photo this time around, a win is a win,” she told the media this week.
“I don’t think he’s as good on the wet but he is in a similar vein of form at home (as last year), he doesn’t seem to be getting any older.
“A couple of the opposition are supreme wet-trackers so I’d prefer a firmer surface.
“It is enjoyable having a horse like him of course, but you do feel an element of pressure.
“When he crosses the line in front – the Hollindale was just relief – which is strange because it should be elation.”
Trainer Chris Waller is after his fourth Doomben Cup success this year following previous victories with: Metal Bender (2010), Beaten Up (2013) and Comin’ Through (2018).
The master Sydney-based trainer saddles-up four chances in the Doomben Cup field this season led by the $7 second elect Polly Grey.
The Kiwi-bred daughter of Azamour is drawn barrier seven for her 42nd career start with Tim Clark coming aboard for the ride.
She was impressive in Sydney on a wet track two back dominating the Group 2 JRA Plate (2000m) by over five lengths, and was last seen running under a length back second to Zaaki in the Hollindale Stakes on May 7.
Waller’s other 2022 Doomben Cup contenders are: four-year-old Kukeracha ($12) coming off a third in the Hollindale at big odds, last start Gosford Cup runner-up Great House ($16) and Kolding ($61) after his first win since the 2021 All Aged Stakes.
The other best in Doomben Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $10 for the upset is Archinpenko gelding Huetor for Peter & Paul Snowden.
The five-year-old has had 14 starts for five wins and is two-from-two over the 2000m Doomben Cup distance.
After running well in easier company during the spring – summer season last year, he returned with a third in the mud on All Aged Stakes Day at Randwick before his last start Hollindale fourth.
Doomben Racecourse is currently rated a Heavy (10) at time of publish, but another switch to sister track Eagle Farm has been ruled out by Brisbane racing officials.
Instead, should the rain-soaked course fail to dry out to a suitable racing surface by Saturday, delaying the meeting until a mid-week Wednesday slot would be the preferred option.
“We will be trying to race at Doomben, whether it is on Saturday or a few days later on the next Wednesday,” chief executive Tony Partridge told Racenet.
“We would treat it like a traditional postponement of a meeting and look to do it within a day or two before we looked at moving it.”