While Friday’s $75,000 Orange Motor Group Orange Cup (2100m) carries a Big Dance carrot, Wagga trainer Chris Hardy is hoping Zakeriz can show he’s on target for his hometown Cup next month.
The eight-year-old scored a strong third-up win in the Albury Mile on March 23 and while he is already a winner at 2000m, Hardy would just like to see it again as he hasn’t been beyond 1600m since his Queanbeyan Cup win in November 2021.
Zakeriz carries 59.5kg after the claim for apprentice Molly Bourke.
Cognac, a Warwick Farm winner on Monday, has top weight with 63kg with more than half the field on 54.5kg or less.
“The way he’s worked I think he will handle the 2100m all right, it’s the weight of the opposition that’s the problem,’’ Hardy said.
“It’s a lot of weight to give away from top weight to bottom weight but that’s how it is.
“He’s qualified for the Wagga Cup so if he can handle the 2100m we might go there, and we most probably will.
“There’s a bit of water under the bridge between now and then.”
Hardy, 79, has only ever had small numbers in work and Zakeriz, $12 with TAB on Wednesday, is very much the flag bearer for his team.
He part-owns the gelding, his wife Gwenda is also in the ownership, and he’s been sparingly raced with just 26 starts for eight wins and just under $200,000 in prizemoney.
Apprentice Molly Bourke has been on board in his past six starts, including his Canterbury win back in October, and Hardy said Zakeriz races well for her.
In the Albury Mile, he sat outside the leader before taking over nearing the 200m and he held on for a half length win.
“Molly has a good record on him at the moment so there’s no need to change anything,’’ he said.
“We’re very pleased with him. He’s as good as he’s ever been, he’s fit and well. He doesn’t chuck it in that’s for sure. He’ll keep trying.
“I don’t think he has to lead, if he can lead and do it comfortably then well and good.”
The $200,000 Raine & Horne Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) is run on May 5. That race also offers eligibility for the $2m Big Dance (1600m) run on November 7 at Royal Randwick.
– Racing NSW