The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The Danny O’Brien-trained Inspirational Girl was back to her best in beating hot favourite Zaaki right on the line in the 2022 Blamey Stakes results ahead of their rematch in the $5 million The All-Star Mile back at Flemington in a fortnight.
The return of Annabel Neasham’s Mackinnon Stakes champion Zaaki in the Group 1 $300,000 Blamey Stakes (1600m) on Australian Guineas Day was the biggest narrative through the week, the horse scratched from Sydney’s Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) due to a Heavy track.
He was brave but ultimately beaten fresh however when nailed right on the line by O’Brien’s six-year-old Reliable Man mare Inspirational Girl who had the fitness edge racing second-up.
Still lightly raced for her age, she added to a consistent winning strike rate and retained her undefeated mile record when atoning for a first-up sixth to Tofane in Caulfield’s Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m).
Formerly prepared in WA by Grant & Alana Williams, the Perth expat has now had three starts for O’Brien and the impressive late Blamey Stakes victory was her first win since the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot in November of 2020.
Damian Lane continued his association aboard the mare, drawing on all his world-class experience and guile as a jockey to produce a masterful winning ride to qualify Inspirational Girl for the 2022 The All-Star Mile on March 19 back at headquarters.
Lane had the eventual Blamey Stakes winner settled just better than midfield making up ground along the rails as Mr Brightside led them around.
Zaaki was racing third the fence just behind Corner Pocket as the unchallenged leader set only a moderate pace up front.
In a great tactical move, Lane got onto the back of Zaaki approaching the turn for home.
The sprint was on with 250m to go, Mr Brightside and Corner Pocket trying their hardest before Zaaki got the split and exploded through inside the final furlong given his chance late in the piece.
Coming right along with him, Inspirational Girl got out just in time and got him in a nail-biting edition of the Blamey with Corner Pocket off an on-speed run held for third to complete the trifecta.
“It looked a bit sticky for a while,” O’Brien told Racing.com after the race.
“I would have preferred if he (Lane) was out peeling about the 600m.
“But she was three back on the fence in a sticky spot.
“She got out in time and she’s run down a top-class horse in Zaaki, which is really hard to do.”
She was well-backed and looks a genuine chance for The All-Star Mile where the challenge will be denying an improving Zaaki at weight-for-age.
“She hasn’t done a lot of racing over the past year and a half so she’s a mare that should improve out of this,” O’Brien said with a bit of confidence.
“Two weeks into The All-Star Mile is just the perfect step for her.”
The latest all-in 2022 The All-Star Mile odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Zaaki as the clear $3.20 top elect, while the confirmed Wild Card contender Inspirational Girl into $7 second favouritism with I’m Thunderstruck and are available in full here.
2022 Blamey Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||10||INSPIRATIONAL GIRL (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Damian Lane||7||53kg||$4.20|
|2||1||ZAAKI (GB)||Annabel Neasham||Ms Jamie Kah||0.2L||1||59kg||$2.30F|
|3||6||CORNER POCKET||Lindsey Smith||Declan Bates||1.95L||3||56kg||$7.50|
|4||5||MR BRIGHTSIDE (NZ)||Ben & JD Hayes||Craig Williams||2.05L||4||56kg||$5.50|
|5||3||BANKERS CHOICE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Mark Zahra||2.55L||9||57kg||$26|
|6||4||KING MAGNUS||Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock||Damien Oliver||4.8L||8||56kg||$19|
|7||7||KING OF LEOGRANCE (FR)||Robert Hickmott||Jye McNeil||5.1L||5||55kg||$61|
|8||9||PONDUS (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Michael Dee||5.85L||10||55kg||$61|
|9||2||LUNAR FOX||Paul Preusker||Brett Prebble||7.85L||2||59kg||$81|
|10||8||PURPLE SECTOR (NZ)||John Thompson||Jordan Childs||8.35L||6||55kg||$41|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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