The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
It may not have been by the same powerful margin as last season but Annabel Neasham’s star import Zaaki was still impressive defending his title in the 2022 A.D. Hollindale Stakes results on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Twelve months ago, the galloper stamped himself as a weight-for-age star to watch when saluting in the Group 2 $500,000 A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) ahead of a seven-length romp home in last year’s Doomben Cup.
The now three-time Group 1 champion now looks on track to complete the same double having successfully held off the Chris Waller-trained duo of Polly Grey and Kukeracha to celebrate a narrow victory in the first leg.
Given a perfectly timed ride by James McDonald, the evergreen seven-year-old and recent $5 million The All-Star Mile hero in Melbourne got out to lead the Hollindale field along.
The danger, Ayrton, also went up early on the speed from his wide alley sitting outside the odds-on favourite, but couldn’t sustain his run on the home straight.
Zaaki meanwhile showed great determination digging deep late to post his eighth win on Australian soil atoning for his last start second in Sydney’s $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during April’s The Championships.
Neasham was thrilled with the AD Hollindale Stakes result and was pleased to see Zaaki salute for the punters fresh.
“This is the freshest he’s been. He had a bit of a bronc with James (McDonald) when he got down on the track and then my only worry is, I’ve I left him too fresh and is he going to travel too strongly,” she told the media post-win on Saturday.
“James just knows him so well and he took luck out of the equation. For a moment there, I thought the second two horses were coming thick and fast and credit to them, they kept him very honest all the way to the line, but he was too good.”
After becoming the first back-to-back AD Hollindale Stakes winner since Leebaz (2015-16), Zaaki is now on track for a title defence in the Group 1 $1 million Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane on May 21.
McDonald’s post-race comments suggested there was improvement to come making Zaaki a deserving all-in favourite for the Doomben Cup in 2022.
“I hope he doesn’t have to see track conditions like it (again) because the tracks beautiful and safe, but it’s just not to his liking,” the hoop said.
“He was working, working and working the whole way so he never got a rest or conserved any energy so the performance was better than what it looked.”
The latest pre-field 2022 Doomben Cup odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au – available in full here – have Zaaki into $1.60 to win with three-time champ Rough Habit (1991-93) the last multiple winner in the winter feature.
2022 AD Hollindale Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||1||ZAAKI (GB)||Annabel Neasham||James McDonald||3||59kg||$1.45F|
|2||12||POLLY GREY (NZ)||Chris Waller||Opie Bosson||0.8L||7||57kg||$11|
|3||5||KUKERACHA (NZ)||Chris Waller||James Orman||1.3L||9||59kg||$51|
|4||9||HUETOR (FR)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||3.8L||5||59kg||$12|
|5||11||COVENTINA BAY (NZ)||Robbie Patterson||Ms Samantha Collett||4.3L||2||57kg||$31|
|6||14||ZAYYDANI (NZ)||Ben & JD Hayes||Andrew Mallyon||7.8L||4||57kg||$61|
|7||13||HUNGRY HEART||Chris Waller||William Pike||8.3L||6||57kg||$21|
|8||3||AYRTON (NZ)||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Hugh Bowman||12.8L||11||59kg||$7.50|
|9||7||DASHING WILLOUGHBY (GB)||Sam Kavanagh||Noel Callow||15.8L||1||59kg||$101|
|10||2||KOLDING (NZ)||Chris Waller||Luke Dittman||16L||10||59kg||$101|
|11||10||HAIL MANHATTAN||Peter & Will Hulbert||Brad Stewart||16.2L||8||59kg||$101|
|6||YONKERS (USA)||Chris Waller||Larry Cassidy||0|
|8||MAXIMAL (GB)||John O’Shea||Ryan Maloney||0|
|4||GREAT HOUSE (IRE)||Chris Waller||Ben Thompson||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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