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Randwick trainer John Thompson has confirmed connections will accept for last start winning mare Zanbagh in Saturday’s 2015 Festival Stakes at Rosehill Racecourse.
The headline of three black-types on the Rosehill race card this weekend, the $150,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) attracted a total of 22 nominations including Thompson’s in-form daughter of Bernardini Zanbagh.
Previously prepared by Guy Walter, the five-year-old has had two Rosehill runs to date for the one win that came last time out on November 14 in the November Handicap (1350m) on a Heavy (9) track.
That was her fourth win from 24 starts, her winning form extending out to 2000m, and broke a lengthy drought going back to her victory in the Group 3 Keith Nolan Stakes (1600m) at Kembla Grange back in March last year.
After that Group 3 success Zanbagh ran fifth to Lucia Valentina, who is 2015 Hong Kong Cup next month along with $7 million earning stablemate Criterion last seen running third in the Melbourne Cup, in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and second to Rising Romance in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.
Originally Thompson didn’t have the Festival Stakes on the cards for the $607,675 earner but she wrote the race into her own campaign having pulled up so well from her first-up win.
Set for retirement earlier this year before joining Thompson’s stables when those plans were shelved, the 2013 Crown Oaks runner-up now shoots for two wins from as many starts for her new trainer as she heads towards the $250,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 12.
“We were thinking about giving her a month between runs and going to the Villiers next,” Thompson told AAP.
“But because she is doing so well in the stable I rang (owner) Sandy Tait and said she should run in the Festival.
“It is really good to have a mare of her quality in the stable and she is just thriving.”
After the death of her original trainer Walter, Zanbagh spent a stint at Ballarat with Patrick Payne but he failed to get her to race in the same exciting form Thompson seems to have recovered in her.
“She was on the retired list and I was very surprised to get the call to train her,” Thompson said.
“It was a nice surprise and I couldn’t be happier.”
Thompson is also eyeing a Villiers Stakes Day run next month with Jiayuguan who heads towards the $100,000 Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half.
The five-year-old Teofilo mare imported from Europe has been racing down under since the autumn and posted her third career win in Australia at Rosehill in a Benchmark 81 over 2400m just last Saturday narrowly defeating Hudson County.
“She has gone to a new level now that she is up to 2400 metres,” Thompson said.
“Her three wins have all been over that distance. She took a while but the 2400 is what she needs.”
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