The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Scratched favourite from Saturday’s Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m), Zaaki will seek a consolation prize for devastated connections targeting the 2021 Mackinnon Stakes on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
At 5am on Cox Plate Day morning, the stable did a routine temperature check on the gun Annabel Neasham-trained Zaaki who was to start favourite in the Cox Plate field at Moonee Valley.
In a shock blow, the imported European was found to have an elevated temperature and was officially scratched from the Australasian weight-for-age championship.
“He seemed spot on going into it. We were happy with him when we left the stable yesterday afternoon,” Neasham’s assistant trainer Todd Pollard told the media on Saturday.
“We turned up (this morning), his temperature was just a little bit above normal and as it transpired throughout the morning it climbed a few more points.
“We had to do the right thing by the horse and scratch him and wait for another day.”
At the time of his withdrawal Zaaki, one of the country’s most talked about horses this season along with Peter Moody’s Caulfield Cup hero Incentivise, was paying $2.80 to win the Cox Plate at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au.
The stable subsequently confirmed the horse is doing well however and is expected to make a full and swift recovery in time to target the Group 1 $2 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday November 6.
“If you didn’t take his temperature, he seemed bright and well,” Pollard continued.
“He had his head in the feed bin this morning, went out for a little trot and was as enthusiastic as ever, so just as well we did take the temperature and save a bit disappointment later.
“The horse will be fine, he’ll come through it, we’ll just have to see how it is and get him right in the next few days.
“We’ve taken a blood test to see exactly what sort of infection it is, we’ll treat him with the right medication and hopefully he’ll be right in a day or two.
“There would be a good chance we go to the Mackinnon on the last day (of the Melbourne Cup Carnival), that’s two weeks from now.”
All-in Mackinnon Stakes 2021 betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au – available in full here – now have Zaaki as the dominant $2.50 favourite.
Cox Plate betting meanwhile was thrown into disarray with the scratching of Zaaki and Godolphin’s Caulfield Guineas winning Street Boss colt Anamoe is the new $3.20 favourite.
Drawn the outside, the James Cummings-trained three-year-old comes into barrier eight with Craig Williams in the saddle and is one of two youngsters in the field along with Caulfield Guineas runner-up Captivant ($12) drawn the rails from the Snowden stable.
Chris Waller’s Australian Racecourse of the Year Verry Elleegant has firmed in from $7 to $3.70 occupying the second line of betting to post her incredible 10th career Group 1 win.
Neasham remains a chance of taking out the Cox Plate trophy with Mo’unga whose odds have been slashed from $16 right into $6.
The four-year-old has previous winning form over Verry Elleegant from this season when he took out the Group 1 Winx Stakes fresh and presents fit fourth-up getting out to 2000m.
Joseph O’Brien’s Irish raider State Of Rest ($7) and the Jamie Richards-trained mare Probabeel ($9.50) who upset Zaaki (3rd) in the Group 1 Might And Power (2000m) last time out are the other single-figure Cox Plate fancies for this afternoon.
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