Chris Waller capped off a stellar day at Royal Randwick with a thrilling quinella in the 2024 Queen of the Turf Stakes.

Zougotcha winning the 2024 Queen Of The Turf Stakes

Zougotcha winning the 2024 Queen Of The Turf Stakes in a close finish for the punters. Photo: Steve Hart

Following the unforgettable performance by the Ciaron Maher-trained Pride of Jenni in the Queen Elizabeth, all eyes turned to Race 9 where last year’s champion Atishu aimed to defend her title.

Waller opted to scratch Atishu from the Queen Elizabeth in favour of the Queen of the Turf, a more suitable distance (1600m) for the defending champion.

This decision proved crucial, as Atishu mounted a powerful late charge, ultimately falling just short of her stablemate Zougotcha.

Zougotcha, the race favourite, secured a narrow victory, completing a hat-trick of wins this Sydney campaign.

The four-year-old daughter of Zoustar dominated the Group 2 Millie Fox (1300m) and the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill earlier this year, adding another feather to her cap with this win.

This victory cements her status as a champion, following her 2022 Flight Stakes win as a three-year-old.

“We just had to put her in the right races and she’s gone bang, bang, bang. Tough mare,” Waller said of Zougtocha post-win.

“I was still thinking about that last race. Full credit to Pride Of Jenni but it was just terrible to watch!

“Zougotcha has done a good job. We gave her a decent break after she didn’t come up in the spring. We didn’t panic and we allowed her to be a racehorse.

“We gave her a proper break and she’s won three-from-three this prep.”

Champion jockey James McDonald piloted Zougotcha to a perfect run, settling comfortably in fourth position behind the early leader Tropical Squall.

“Very proud of this mare. She’s an absolute ripper. Barriers win races. She has drawn beautiful marbles all the way through,” McDonald said.

“She executes perfectly. She tries really hard. A mile is probably a stretch at Randwick but her will to win is phenomenal.

“She’s so willing. She’s definitely the mare of the autumn. She did a really good job today.

She railed up the inside on the home straight, hitting the front 150m out from the line.”

Atishu’s late surge threatened to steal the show, but ultimately, J-Mac and Zougotcha held on for the win.

“Atishi, she’s tough,” Waller added speaking about the runner-up.

“Another stride and it might have been different celebrations, but hey, it is 1600-metres (and) until you get to the line there’s no celebrating.

“The owners have the option to sell her. I don’t think she’ll be sold. There’s still good racing in her. These are dream horses for people and breeding is not as easy as it sounds. I think she should race on.

“They (the horses) are good mates at the stables at home, too so there’ll be a bit of bragging rights.

“It was a lovely ride from James (McDonald) and it was a good reward as he’s had a tough day.”

Trainer Ciaron Maher, who dominated the day with two Group 1 wins – Pride of Jenni (Queen Elizabeth) and Circle of Fire (Sydney Cup) – secured third place with Semana ($14), rounding out the Queen of the Turf trifecta.

2024 Queen Of The Turf Stakes Results

Finish No. Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Bar. Weight Penalty Starting Price
1 2 ZOUGOTCHA Chris Waller James McDonald 1 57kg $3.50F
2 1 ATISHU (NZ) Chris Waller Blake Shinn 0.04L 2 57kg $3.70
3 5 SEMANA Ciaron Maher Dylan Gibbons (a) 1.28L 4 57kg $14
4 16 MAKARENA Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Tyler Schiller 1.3L 8 54.5kg $16
5 4 RUTHLESS DAME (NZ) Ciaron Maher Ms Jamie Kah 1.48L 15 57kg $16
6 14 TROPICAL SQUALL Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Adam Hyeronimus 2.44L 3 54.5kg $6.50
7 6 OLENTIA Chris Waller Tommy Berry 2.58L 10 57kg $12
8 7 ETERNAL FLAME (NZ) Michael Kent Damian Lane 2.6L 6 57kg $19
9 3 CAMPIONESSA (NZ) Mark Walker Opie Bosson 2.66L 13 57kg $26
10 12 BARBIE’S FOX Ben, Will & JD Hayes Mark Zahra 4.01L 9 57kg $91
11 13 MORE SECRETS Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Ben Melham 4.03L 5 57kg $81
12 9 RENAISSANCE WOMAN (NZ) Bjorn Baker Joshua Parr 4.14L 7 57kg $31
13 11 OSMOSE (FR) Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Tim Clark 4.54L 11 57kg $41
14 15 ARCTIC GLAMOUR Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou Michael Dee 6.1L 14 54.5kg $51
15 10 MADAME POMMERY Chris Waller Nash Rawiller 6.67L 12 57kg $51
17 TIZ INVINCIBLE Ciaron Maher Zac Lloyd (a) 0
8 FOXY FRIDA Andrew Noblet Billy Egan 0

Table Credit: Racing Australia.

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About The Author

Lucy Henderson

Lucy is an experienced horse racing journalist that has been a crucial member of the team for the better part of a decade. She has taken great delight in covering champion mares Black Caviar and Winx throughout their careers and always has a soft spot for a winning filly.