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By Graham Potter | Thursday, May 26, 2022

“Thank God!”

That was James McDonald’s response when it was put to him that Zaaki will have firmer footing to race on at Eagle Farm on Saturday in the Doomben Cup than he would have had if the (now postponed) meeting had gone ahead on the heavy surface at Doomben last week.

“This track (Eagle Farm) will suit him perfectly,” said McDonald, talking to Sky Racing after Zaaki’s track gallop at Eagle Farm on Tuesday.

“Annabel (Neasham) has brought him here three times now. He is very familiar with it, and it was great to get him back on it today. It is obviously a nice, safe surface and he had an extremely good morning.

“I was very with happy with him. He wasn’t out to do a hell of a lot. He just cruised through his paces over 1000m … came home in 24.5 or 25.

“He felt terrific, and he has pulled up extremely well, so he is ticking along beautifully.”

Trainer Annabel Neasham was equally rapt with the change of venue.

“Seeing all the rain that has been falling I was pretty happy when they made that call on Sunday,” said Neasham. “It helped us just to sort of plan what work we are doing with the horses.

“He missed that gallop on race-day, so we were happy to bring him back here again. We just had Holyfield about a furlong in front of him, so he had something to prick his ears towards.

‘His work is really done … it was just a bit of ‘tick over’ work. It is always good to get James (McDonald) back on because he knows him so well … and he said he felt great underneath him.”

With the heavy going option, which might have reined in Zaaki’s natural talent slightly, now probably all but removed from the equation on the Eagle Farm surface, the chances of Zaaki’s nine rivals would seem to be as dismal as the sky in Queensland at the moment.

Seven of her lesser performed rivals have to meet Zaaki (a twelve-time winner) at level weights, while the two runners down the weight scale only receive a 2kg advantage over Zaaki in this weight-for-age contest.

The $1.50 odds about Zaaki’s chances in the Doomben Cup says it all.

Some will say they don’t bet at that short a price. Others might look at the form in the race and consider it a gift.

Either way, it is always a pleasure to see a champion in action and that is undoubtedly the mindset most racing enthusiast will bring with them on Saturday.

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