WJ McKell Cup Preferred Option for Zabeelionaire

Kyneton horseman Leon Corstens has nominated his 2012 SA Derby winner Zabeelionaire for two Listed races this weekend but would prefer to see them go around in Sydney’s $100,000 WJ McKell Cup (2400m).


2012 SA Derby winner Zabeelionaire is out to break their drought in Sydney this Saturday. Photo: Daniel Costello.

The Zabeel five-year-old is also in the mix for Flemington’s $150,000 Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) where the stallion would be up over two miles against some classy stayers.

A galloper that performs better on top of the ground, Zabeelionaire has never been to Sydney with wet weather preventing their previously planned NSW raid.

“The last time we were going to race him in Sydney it rained so he never went,” Corstens told AAP.

Corstens then would love for the predicted clear, dry days to continue ahead of Saturday giving them the firm track they need at Randwick Racecourse to get around well in the WJ McKell Cup.

“The forecast looks good this week so that’s where he is likely to go,” he said.

They’re out to break a lengthy drought too, Zabeelionaire not having won a race since their Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) success as a three-year-old two years ago.

Things have been far more miss than hit for them since as well with just one top three finish in the past 24 months until their last start.

After another disappointing start to the season with three well beaten efforts including their 13th to Our Voodoo Prince in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield in April, Zabeelionaire hinted at improvement to come when they returned to Adelaide on May 10.

There they ran second behind Ominous in the Listed Port Adelaide Cup (2500m), momentum Corstens hopes they can cash in on and continue this weekend.

That run convinced their trainer to continue on with them this weekend, and was impressive too considering it was run on unsuitably Slow (7) ground.

“He went well last time in what may not have been a strong race but it was pleasing,” Corstens said.

“We rode him forward on the wet track to give him a chance and he stayed on well.”

For the Port Adelaide Cup Zabeelionaire was ridden by Damien Oliver.

Corstens though replaces Oliver with Glyn Schofield for Saturday, who he hopes is well enough to honour the ride after a nasty fall during Monday’s Warwick Farm barrier trials.

Schofield suffered a number of facial fractures from the fall and will miss the mid-week Wednesday meeting.

It looks a top edition of the WJ McKell Cup this year too with plenty of other talent among the 17 nominees.

Seven of those come from the stables of Chris Waller including Danchai who ran second in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) in Brisbane last time out.

Waller has also nominated for I’m Imposing and Secessio who ran second and third respectively behind headline McKell Cup entry Zephyron in the Listed Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) at the start of the month.

I’m Imposing, Secessio and Danchai join top weight Permit as dual nominees for the weekend for Waller who has also entered them for a shot at the $125,000 Group 3 Premier’s Cup (2200m) on Doomben 10,000 Day in Brisbane.

Weekend race fields are due for release tomorrow so make sure you stay tuned to Races.com.au.

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