Warwick Farm’s Matthew Smith is keen to go one better in Saturday’s 2016 Winter Challenge with Zin Zan Eddie after the horse’s close second at the same Rosehill track last time out.
On July 16 Smith’s Zizou six-year-old crossed only a quarter-length away second to the Kim Waugh-trained Oxford Poet as a $17 roughie in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens.
That was a notably improved effort off the gelding’s dead last (12th) at the same price on June 25 behind Mount Nebo in the Winter Dash (1200m).
He goes up in distance again for this weekend’s rematch in the $150,000 Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) and from three runs over the metres he boasts three thirds.
Smith is confident the extra distance will work in his horse’s favour, Zin Zan Eddie chasing his first win since the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) won on a Heavy (8) Randwick track back in February.
The horseman is also hoping the cool Sydney weather will see the current Heavy rated Rosehill course remain wet enough to suit his galloper who has a strong record on Heavy tracks (4-2-1-1).
“He runs well on all surfaces but he’s beaten Group horses on wet ground,” Smith said.
“He is a superior wet tracker and the dry weather takes away a bit of his advantage but the track will still be slow.
“As long as it’s got some give in it, that the main thing.”
Winter Challenge attracted a total of 17 nominations on Monday and Zin Zan Eddie gets in on 55.5kg going up from the 54kg minimum he carried in the Winter Stakes.
Smith’s other entry Zayam is more likely to the $85,000 Benchmark 82 Handicap (2000m) the French import, who comes off a Randwick second over the mile from July 9, is also nominated for at the meeting.
“I’m leaning to the 2000 metre race. He has won over 2000 metres at Randwick and 1800 at Rosehill and I think he will be better over more ground,” Smith said.
The Winter Challenge weights are led by the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Winter Stakes fifth placegetter Snippets Land (59kg) whose last win was in Brisbane’s Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben in May.
Waugh’s Winter Stakes winner Oxford Poet meanwhile chases back-to-back Rosehill stakes’ wins carrying 57kg this weekend after the Dylan Thomas had 54kg on his back for his last start victory when breaking his Black-Type maiden.
Also out of the Winter Stakes and nominated for the Winter Challenge this season are the likes of the Chris Waller-trained Marenostro (4th) and stablemate Tales Of Grimm (8th).
The season’s leading Sydney trainer, Waller has also nominated for his soon-to-retire mare She’s Clean coming off a fourth at Flemington in the Listed Leilani Final (1400m) and Kiwi expat Sacred Master.
Third last time out back in March’s Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) in New Zealand, Mastercraftsman four-year-old Sacred Master debuts in Australia on the weekend on the back of a fourth in a Randwick trial on July 15.
Waller has big plans this coming Sydney Spring Racing Carnival for the Group 2 winning stayer including a likely run at Royal Randwick on Epsom Handicap Day, October 1, in the $750,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m).
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