Image: Bruno Cannatelli
A steamy follow-up question wasn’t enough to dampen Annabel Neasham’s enthusiasm for Zaaki’s departure Queen Elizabeth Stakes pitted against the best age-based galloping athletes on land.
The All-Star Mile winner is proven on soft ground but has never run on a heavy track, conditions he is set to strike for the first time on Saturday with Randwick already in the big range and expected more rain.
Neasham admitted she wasn’t sure how her steady star would cope with the extreme conditions under the pressure of race day but said he handled them during the track.
Neasham said: “I definitely don’t want to go into the unknown with him on a heavy track.
“He has been working on the heavy track (last Tuesday) and seems to have come through it in a good way.
“But you never know until you get to race day.”
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) drew on Australia’s best mids with Zaaki to take on the roles of glamorous mare Verry Elleegant, rising stars Montefilia and Duais, standout three-year-old Anamoe and warhorse Think It Over.
Verry Elleegant is a $3 favorite who finally landed on the fall festival feature after finishing second with British star Addeybb over the past two years, while Zaaki tied for second with Anamoe with $4.60 .
Neasham says she has the privilege of having a horse good enough to be a part of and hopes the race will live up to its hype.
“It’s going to be a great race, yes,” she said.
“It’s a very valuable race and for sure for me it’s one of those big races that we all want to win.”
Zaaki drew gate number three at Tuesday’s hedge draw, directly outside of Montefilia while Verry Elleegant (seven) and Duais (nine) both drew.
Anamoe was in fifth place in the quest to become the first three-year-old to win since Intergaze in 1997.
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