2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival Focus for Zanbagh

Randwick trainer John Thompson has confirmed plans to bypass the Summer Cup with Zanbagh and focus the mare on a 2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign instead.


Dual Oaks runner-up Zanbagh is on track for a big 2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival despite mediocre summer form. Photo: Steve Hart.

A dual Oaks runner-up during her three-year-old season, the now five-year-old daughter of Bernardini won first-up this time in at Rosehill in mid-November but hasn’t placed since.

She saluted in the November Handicap (1350m) at a wet Rosehill track posting her first turf triumph since the Group 3 Keith Nolan Stakes (1600m) at Kembla Grange back in March last year.

At her peak Zanbagh was second behind the recently retired Kirramosa in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) in 2013 and second again to Rising Romance in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in Sydney in April of last year.

After her resuming run last month she was a narrowly beaten fourth only a length off Mighty Lucky in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) back at the track before things went amiss when she went back up in class on December 12.

Last weekend at Randwick she took on a quality field in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) but could only manage to cross four and a half lengths away ninth behind the favourite Happy Clapper who saluted for the punters.

Thompson made the call to send Zanbagh to the paddock for a freshen-up post-the Villiers and is unlikely to run her in the $125,000 Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) at Randwick on Boxing Day like he had originally intended.

Instead he will give her a deserved break before a Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival comeback starting possibly with the $150,000 Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on Chipping Norton Stakes Day on February 27 next year.

That could lead into bigger and better things over the carnival including the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 12 and the $1 million Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on Day 2 of The Championships in April.

Zanbagh hasn’t raced in elite level company since her ATC Cup second in 2014, but if her new season form warrants it Thompson would be happy to give her the chance to compete in the Group 1s again during 2016.

Thompson is yet to prepare a winner of either the Queen Of The Turf Stakes or the Coolmore Classic.

Very early 2016 Queen Of The Turf Stakes betting markets at bookmakers around the country are led by Chris Waller’s Cox Plate winning mare Winx.

Also high up the futures odds for the classic are the likes of the Waller’s $2.7 million earner Royal Descent, David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Thousand Guineas winner Stay With Me and First Seal.

Also prepared by Thompson, Fastnet Rock four-year-old First Seal won the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) defeating Winx in October last year before a second to Hampton Court in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) that spring.

She had three more Group 1 runs this Sydney Autumn Carnival for two seconds in the Coolmore Classic and Vinery Stud Stakes behind Plucky Belle and Fenway respectively before her sixth to Amanpour in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes.

She missed the entire spring but is on track for an autumn return.

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