Co-trainer James Cummings is sweating on the final acceptances for Saturday’s 2015 Queensland Oaks at Doomben Racecourse hoping the stable’s progressive filly Zarzali makes the cut for the Group 1.
A winner of two of her seven starts to date, Hussonet filly Zarzali is one of 32 three-year-old fillies still officially in the mix for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2200m) running in Brisbane on the weekend.
She is sitting 17th on the ballot, the Bart & James Cummings-trained improver last seen running third to the Chris Waller-trained Ballet Suite in the Listed Princess Stakes (2000m) at Doomben on May 9.
That was her first run since a below par seventh behind Gust Of Wind ins the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in Sydney over the mile and a half, a race that also produced the current Queensland Oaks favourit Winx.
Also prepared by Sydney’s premier trainer Waller, Street Cry filly Winx was runner-up in the ATC Oaks before handling a notable drop back in distance and class to win the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) in a come-from-behind effort on May 16.
She now sits top of the Queensland Oaks odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.45 ahead of Gai Waterhouse’s impressive The Roses winner from last Saturday Bohemian Lily ($5) and the Bjorn Baker-trained Sebring ($7).
One-time second favourite Ballet Suite then rounds out the current single figure hopes at $8.
Zarzali meanwhile can be found just a little further down the markets at $13, her winning form extending out to 2400m when she saluted on a Heavy (8) Kembla Grange track back in late February.
The 2400m is the usual Queensland Oaks distance, but this year with Eagle Farm out of action due to redevelopment the move to Doomben sees the event run over a shorter 2200m.
That also means the field size is restricted to only 15 runners, which puts Zarzali in danger of missing out on a start in the official line-up.
“I didn’t think it would be this close,” Cummings told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“She is a good staying filly, which we think has a sense of timing about her. She has form around Ballet Suite and the Roses winner [Bohemian Lily] from last start and she is still improving.
“She has got some black type already from the trip, which is important for fillies, and I think she is ready to run a great race.
“We just need to get in. I’m sure she will run the trip as she is already a 2400m winner.”
Further boosting Cummings’ confidence that Zarzali would be competitive in the Oaks should she make the cut was the pre-race commentary from jockey Hugh Bowman after the Princess Stakes earlier in the month.
“Hugh got off her and said it was the perfect run for the Oaks after she made a lot of ground late and was strong to the line,” Cummings said.
“Unfortunately, he has been booked for Winx, which will be the favourite, but we have been able to get Tommy Berry to ride her.”
Berry is yet to partner Zarzali and he will be chasing his maiden Queensland Oaks win this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
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