The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Annabel Neasham’s resuming Mackinnon Stakes champ Zaaki is the horse to beat first-up at Flemington in the Group 2 $300,000 Blamey Stakes (1600m) after being scratched from a Group 1 assignment in Sydney.
Torrential rainfall in the north sees a Heavy (10) Randwick track this weekend forcing connections to withdraw Zaaki from the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m).
The super-consistent seven-year-old instead gets his autumn underway in the 2022 Blamey Stakes over the mile at HQ racing for the first time since his consolation win in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at the track last November.
Sensationally scratched from the Cox Plate, Zaaki posted his third elite level win proving his star status in the Mackinnon but will have to wait for a shot to add to his Group 1 tally in the coming weeks.
He dominates Blamey Stakes betting back in Group 2 company now his run is confirmed and sits top of the markets at $2.15 to win fresh, something he managed to do last prep saluting for the punters in Sydney’s Group 2 Tramway Stakes over 1400m last September.
The early Blamey Stakes market mover now occupying the second line of betting at $4 is the Danny O’Brien-trained Reliable Man mare Inspirational Girl.
Since Market Price back in 2001, just one mare has managed to beat home the boys in the Blamey Stakes with Inspirational Girl out to be the first since Suavito in 2015.
O’Brien chases another Blamey Stakes trophy to add to that he collected with Gold Wells back in 2004.
Six-year-old Inspirational Girl gets in with just 53kg and is undefeated at a mile with three previous victories over the 1600m.
Formerly prepared in WA by Grant & Alana Williams, the Perth expat had her first run with her new trainer last August when fifth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and was last seen running sixth in the Group 3 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) first-up.
She looks set to relish getting back up to a mile, but faces a tough challenge in knocking down Zaaki.
Following closely in the markets at $4.50 is the other major player Mr Brightside for Ben & JD Hayes.
Craig Williams rides the consistent Bullbars four-year-old who has won six from ten to date.
Boasting five victories from six runs at the 1600m, Mr Brightside is looking to return to winning form with his last victory being in the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) last October.
Following that he was far from disgraced in a blanket finish when a quarter-length back fourth to Superstorm in Flemington’s Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) on Derby Day.
He is second-up on Saturday having run third fresh in the Elms Handicap over 1400m here on February 19 with improvement expected now he is fit and back to 1600m.
Williams meanwhile chases his fifth Blamey Stakes victory since 2011 having ridden previous recent champions: Green Moon (2012), Budriguez (2013), He OR She (2016) and most recently Fifty Stars for the horse’s successful title defence in 2020.
Rounding out the single-figure fancies at Blamey Stakes odds of $9 is the Lindsey Smith-trained Corner Pocket in barrier three with Declan Bates continuing associations with the flying Toronado five-year-old.
Since breaking his maiden status at his third start last November, Corner Pocket has won eight straight including his upset win over Mr Brightside in The Elms Handicap first-up a fortnight back.
2022 Blamey Stakes Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||D111x1131x||ZAAKI (GB)||Annabel Neasham||Ms Jamie Kah||1||59kg||118|
|2||140x9560x0||LUNAR FOX||Paul Preusker||Brett Prebble||2||59kg||97|
|3||x3211x0111||BANKERS CHOICE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Mark Zahra||9||57kg||91|
|4||11224251×7||KING MAGNUS||Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock||Damien Oliver||8||56kg||100|
|5||21111114×3||MR BRIGHTSIDE (NZ)||Ben & JD Hayes||Craig Williams||4||56kg||98|
|6||11x11111x1||CORNER POCKET||Lindsey Smith||Declan Bates||3||56kg||97|
|7||11x2x03x6x||KING OF LEOGRANCE (FR)||Robert Hickmott||Jye McNeil||5||55kg||104|
|8||x5030x2244||PURPLE SECTOR (NZ)||John Thompson||Jordan Childs||6||55kg||99|
|9||2x722x540x||PONDUS (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Ben Melham||10||55kg||101|
|10||131112x5x6||INSPIRATIONAL GIRL (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Damian Lane||7||53kg||109|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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