By Chris Roots
Annabel Neasham is not worried about Zaaki being the most watched horse in the country in Saturday’s Q22 at Eagle Farm, because she knows he is ready to go again.
The import earned a 120 rating from the international handicapping panel for his arrogant seven-length romp in the Doomben Cup last start, which judges the performance only behind Nature Strip, Addeybb and Eduardo in Australia this year.
He heads to Eagle Farm as a $1.50 favourite to pick up another $720,000 winning cheque on Saturday and Neasham says she is not feeling any pressure. She’s almost more concerned about her runners at Randwick.
“He is as good as I had him going into the Doomben Cup, so you have to be confident,” Neasham said. “There is an expectation there from everyone now and that brings with it a bit of pressure, but I think he is up to running at the same level again.
“He is just a horse that is thriving and I think we will see something similar. I can’t tell you much more about him than he is very happy and he wouldn’t be running if I was at all worried about him.”
Zaaki’s run is overshadowing the Stradbroke and JJ Atkins, which carry group 1 status, on Queensland’s biggest day of the year. There is a fair deal of interest in seeing if he can reproduce the same level, before taking a break and having a crack at the Cox Plate in the spring.
“It’s just good to have a horse like him,” Neasham said. “It’s exciting, especially when you are talking about big races in the spring.”
Neasham will keep an eye on Sydney where she drops Holyfield in grade to benchmark level after he failed in stakes company in Brisbane, while she thinks Snitzel colt Verne will continue to show his potential in the Randwick opener.
Verne steps up to Saturday company after an easy Wednesday win at Warwick Farm, but Neasham has always believed he would measure up to better things.
“Early on he was probably our best two-year-old but we had to give the autumn a miss because he had a setback,” Neasham said. “I just wanted to get him to have a couple of runs and show us what he can do.
“Hopefully he can get another win and we can start looking at the spring with him.”
Holyfield is already a two-time group 3 winner but, after being well beaten in the Fred Best Quality last time out, is rated a $10 hope.
“He just didn’t handle Eagle Farm,” Neasham said. “He is going well and getting back on soft ground, which he likes, he will run a much better race. He should be able to sit on the speed and give a really good kick.”