George Ryder Stakes Among Options For Zaaki

Star galloper Zaaki is a chance to resume in the George Ryder Stakes on Golden Slipper day after passing a crucial test at Randwick.

Neasham and jockey James Mcdonald were thrilled with the nine-year-old’s enthusiasm during an exhibition gallop on Saturday when he worked with recent stable addition Mighty Ulysses (Tom Marquand).

The pair hit the line together and while Mighty Ulysses officially got the verdict by a half-head, Neasham said it was exactly what she wanted to see from Zaaki, who has been a little slow to come to hand.

“He was a bit foot sore when he came back into work, but James (McDonald) just got off him there and said he feels terrific,” Neasham said.

“We will see how he comes through this and whether he possibly could go to the George Ryder.

“It might be a bit soon, but there’s not much else around for him if we don’t go there.

“But if we don’t, we’ll simmer along with him and maybe do the route we went last year which was All Aged (Stakes) and then back to the Hollindale (Stakes) and the Doomben Cup.”

Zaaki has won 11 of his 27 starts since arriving in Australia, including four at Group 1 level and the 2022 All-Star Mile.

He is returning from a hit-and-run campaign in Perth where he was nosed out by Dom To Shoot in the Northerly Stakes (1800m) on December 9 and Neasham says whatever the horse does now is a bonus.

Neasham was also thrilled with what she saw from Mighty Ulysses, a dual stakes winner over a mile in Europe.

He will trial again at Warwick Farm on Tuesday and all being well, will make his Australian debut in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) on Saturday week.

“It’s going to be hard to fill Zaaki’s shoes, but he might be the next one for me to be in those weight-for-age type races,” Neasham said.

“He will have a stretch of the legs on Tuesday and as long as I’m happy with him, he’ll go to the George Ryder.

“I’m possibly thinking of the Doncaster (Mile) with 51, it looks appealing if he can get in.”

Neasham had a successful afternoon at Randwick on Saturday winning the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) with Lady Laguna and confirmed the mare was in line to back-up in next weekend’s Coolmore Classic.

– RAS NewsWire

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