Zahra to Ride Azkadellia in 2016 Doomben 10,000

Ciaron Maher’s star Group 1 winning mare Azkadellia will have yet another jockey change with Mark Zahra booked for the ride in Saturday’s Doomben 10,000.

Mark Zahra

Jockey Mark Zahra rides the favourite Azkadellia in Saturday’s 2016 Doomben 10,000. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The four-year-old daughter of Shinko King is set to jump dominant favourite in this year’s $750,000 Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben Racecourse.

She sits top of all-in Doomben 10,000 betting at for the weight-for-age classic after her smart two length win last start on April 9 at Randwick in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).

That was her third Group 1 run on the trot following a Coolmore Classic second and third to Winx in the Doncaster Mile only seven days before her own elite level success.

A winner of six of her 14 career runs to date, Azkadellia drops back in distance on Saturday and also has a gun record of two wins and a second from her three previous starts at 1300 – 1400m.

She is yet to race in Queensland, but the bookies are taking no chances with the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap-bound mare.

In the Coolmore Azkadellia had the Hong Kong-based Brett Prebble aboard before Glen Boss took over for the lightweight 50kg ride in the Doncaster.

For her Queen Of The Turf victory Damien Oliver had the mount, but Oliver is suspended and will miss her weekend run.

Maher originally had Nicholas Hall coming in as Oliver’s replacement in the Doomben 10,000, but he too is now unavailable after copping a careless riding charge last week.

Now the Melbourne-based Zahra travels to partner Saturday’s Group 1 favourite in Brisbane jumping on Azkadellia for the first time since September last year when the beaten favourite running second over 1200m at Pakenham.

Zahra has had just the one unsuccessful Doomben 10,000 ride to date, but Maher is confident he and Azkadellia are a livewire chance to salute for the punters on the weekend.

“When you look at her ­record, she has had quite a few riders on her. She has had some decent riders, including Joao Moreira,” Maher told the Herald Sun.

“But, really, she is pretty straightforward to ride.”

Maher expects Azkadellia to go forward in the Doomben 10,000 and competitive till the end, but admits her grand final aim has always been the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.

“She had a nice jumpout the other day and seems to be on track,” he said.

“The Stradbroke has always been the aim for her. She generally improves with racing during her preparations and she has freshened up nicely.

“While she will probably be better suited to 1400m and the big track at Eagle Farm, but the race on Saturday she mightn’t be too far off them.”

Maher’s other runner on Doomben 10,000 Day will be Akavoroun in the $150,000 Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1615m), the six-year-old looking to atone for a recent string of unplaced runs.

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