Top local trainer Kelso Wood is likely to be shaking his head after his consistent five-year-old mare Zero Rock drew her fourth double-digit barrier in as many races for this Saturday’s Tattersall’s Tiara at Eagle Farm.
The daughter of Danzero has been in impressive form this preparation, Zero Rock producing three placings from her four Brisbane Winter Carnival starts.
She will attempt to win her maiden Group 1 in the $500,000 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m), formerly the Winter Stakes, this weekend and Wood believes she has shown the right type of form for the fillies and mares feature.
“I’m thrilled with the way she’s been going but it could have been better with any luck with barriers,” he said.
In an early blow for this year’s Stradbroke Handicap third-placegetter, Zero Rock has again drawn out wide coming up with gate 10 of 15 for her Winter Stakes bid.
After running a credible sixth beaten four lengths by Robert Heathcote’s galloper Buffering first-up in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on April 30, Zero Rock has gone on to record two seconds and a third all at Group level and all from barrier 10 or wider.
Following the Victory Stakes, Zero Rock lined up in barrier 15 of 16 for the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) where after racing wide throughout and carrying a hefty 57.5kg, she managed to come with under half a length of winner Kanzan at Doomben on May 21.
Next start she finished a brave second to fellow Tattersall’s Tiara hopeful Hurtle Myrtle in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 4, Zero Rock jumping from barrier 10.
Last start she enjoyed her biggest run to date coming within two lengths of gun three-year-old and winner Sincero and runner-up Beaded in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) having been forced to race wide throughout yet again.
“She (Zero Rock) should have won one and maybe even all three of them (her last three starts) had she drawn a better barrier,” Wood said.
Ridden by Tim Clark in the Stradbroke, on Saturday Zero Rock will re-partner with regular rider Chris Munce who was committed for the mount on Love Conquers All in the Stradbroke.
Despite rating Zero Rock as one of the only Tattersall’s Tiara acceptors capable of giving short-priced favourite Beaded a run for her money, Wood knows that the wider draw has dented his mare’s chances.
“It’s going to be a hard race and it would be good to have everything in her favour when they are so evenly matched,” he said.
Zero Rock is one of only three Tattersall’s Tiara contenders at single-figure odds to win paying $7.50.
Peter Snowden’s top-class mare Beaded is the deserved favourite while QTC Cup winner Varenna Miss is at $9, and it is these two that Wood tips as the ones to beat on Saturday.
“Beaded and the horse of Tony Noonan’s (Varenna Miss) goes all right too,” he said.
“But there’s about five or six chances.”
Tuesday morning saw Zero Rock have her final bit of work before tackling the Tiara title, and while fellow hopeful Yosei was the eye-catching worker at Eagle Farm, Wood chose not to use the course proper.
“She’s got her routine and I like to stick to it, she gets cranky otherwise,” he explained.
“Her work was very good.
“She just needs a bit of luck in running (on Saturday).”