The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Annabel Neasham‘s scratched Cox Plate favourite Zaaki returned to winning form for the punters enjoying an all-the-way win in the 2021 Mackinnon Stakes results in a small consolation for the stable.
It may not have been the heights of a Cox Plate victory, but Zaaki was very good in his rescheduled Grand Final on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival when too strong for a class field in Group 1 $2 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
One of the season’s most talked about horses, the winter’s seven-length Doomben Cup champion was brilliant in his first two runs including the Group 1 Underwood Stakes victory by two lengths.
He went down in a shock loss when third in the Caulfield Stakes before being scratched from the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) the morning of due to an elevated temperature.
Neasham was quick to put ‘Plan B’ into place naming the weight-for-age Mackinnon as Zaaki’s next race and the galloper did not disappoint.
“So satisfying I was pretty nervous beforehand,” Neasham told Racing.com after the victory.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“He looked fresh in the run, he’s obviously hasn’t ran in a month.
“A beautiful ride by James he can do no wrong at the moment.
“I knew at the top of the straight he just had a lapful of horse and I knew it was going to take a good horse to run him down.”
Jockey James McDonald surpassed Brett Prebble for number of wins during a Melbourne Cup Carnival, the in-form hoop backing-up from his earlier Darley Classic victory on Nature Strip to ride another punters’ pick to victory and back the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes Day double.
“It’s obviously fantastic,” McDonald said.
“Started off with a Coolmore domination (on Home Affairs), then the Holy Grail (Verry Elleegant in the Melbourne Cup) which was the most special one and capitalised with two more today.”
The Melbourne Cup winning hoop controlled the race on the front-running favourite, Zaaki left alone in the lead and nothing could catch the gun seven-year-old.
Prebble had to settle for second behind his friend J. Mac, the season’s other leading hoop guiding the Godolphin-raced Doncaster Mile winner Cascadian to another good placing.
“Really special to share that moment with him (Prebble),” McDonald added having enjoyed an embrace after the race with his childhood hero.
Coming off his third top three finish in a Kennedy Cantala when third to Superstorm on Derby Day, Cascadian wore down Zaaki’s winning margin on the straight finishing a length back in the Mackinnon Stakes quinella.
In a lovely finish to the carnival for Neasham she prepared two of the first three over the line with Mo’unga – coming off a Cox Plate fourth – in a brave third ahead of the Matthew Smith-trained Japanese import Keiai Nautique.
“He’s a dominant horse and that what he can do when he’s in the zone. It’s a shame for the connections to miss two week’s ago,” McDonald said of Zaaki.
“Credit to Annabel, she preserved and got over that little hiccup and moved on and got a great race today.”
Having brought Zaaki over from the UK around 12 months ago, Neasham has brought the horse through the ranks down under in a terrific training performance with more to come in the autumn for both he and Mo’unga.
“Superb and Mo’unga as well, very proud of him,” Neasham said.
“There’s plenty more to come from him and a lot more improvement I think. I can’t wait for the autumn with both horses.”
2021 Mackinnon Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||4||ZAAKI (GB)||Annabel Neasham||James McDonald||8||59kg||$2.25F|
|2||2||CASCADIAN (GB)||James Cummings||Brett Prebble||1.25L||2||59kg||$26|
|3||7||MO’UNGA (NZ)||Annabel Neasham||Hugh Bowman||3L||5||58.5kg||$6.50|
|4||5||KEIAI NAUTIQUE (JPN)||Matthew Smith||Craig Newitt||4.5L||6||59kg||$41|
|5||8||PRIVATE EYE||Joseph Pride||Nash Rawiller||4.7L||9||58.5kg||$16|
|6||3||SUPERSTORM||Danny O’Brien||Luke Currie||4.9L||10||59kg||$21|
|7||10||HUNGRY HEART||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||5.2L||7||56.5kg||$8.50|
|8||9||COLETTE||James Cummings||Damian Lane||5.4L||4||57kg||$6|
|9||1||HOMESMAN (USA)||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Jye McNeil||5.5L||1||59kg||$26|
|10||6||DALASAN||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Craig Williams||6.5L||3||59kg||$20|
*Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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