The trainer of Cox Plate favourite Zaaki is concerned about the firmness of the Eagle Farm track and has called on track managers to put extra water on the surface ahead of her star galloper’s appearance in a rich race on Stradbroke Handicap day.
Zaaki announced himself as the most exciting rising star in Australian racing with his explosive seven-length romp in the Group 1 Doomben Cup and trainer Annabel Neasham has confirmed he will take his place in the $1.2 million Q22 (2200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday week.
Zaaki is the $1.60 favourite for the race and if he produces a performance similar to last time then his short quote as $3.50 Cox Plate favourite could trim even further.
However, Neasham has spotlighted issues with the latest incarnation of the Eagle Farm track, saying jockeys who have ridden there for her recently have reported it is “very, very firm”.
Track managers put 6mm of irrigation on the track last Friday in the lead-up to Queensland Derby Day but Neasham insists it needs more, especially given little rain is forecast in Brisbane.
“The track concerns me in general,” Neasham said.
“Zaaki is heading there but I would certainly like them to put a lot more water on it than they did the other day.
“They put 6mm on it last Friday? Come on … it needs more than that, that is not enough is it?
“The feedback I have had from the jockeys who have ridden my horses there is they have certainly said it is very, very firm.
“Zaaki likes firm tracks but Eagle Farm now seems to be a very much a horses for courses track, some horses simply don’t like the firmness there and they don’t let down.
“Holyfield normally doesn’t mind a hard track but he didn’t let down at all on that track last Saturday (finishing 10th in the Fred Best Classic).”
Annabel Neasham is concerned about the firmness of Eagle Farm. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Neasham’s plea to put extra water on the Eagle Farm track is in some ways reminiscent of how European trainers used to make similar calls in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup.
Participant feedback from Queensland Derby day, the first of three Group 1 Saturdays to be staged at Eagle Farm, was mixed.
The track raced fairly however some trainers and jockeys were less than delighted with the firmness of the surface which was officially rated a Good 4.
Jockey feedback from Queensland Oaks day on Saturday will be critical, considering the track has at times struggled to “back-up” from one week to the next and Queensland racing’s crowning cap of Stradbroke day is on the following Saturday.
Neasham said Zaaki, who has so far only galloped on the A-grass at Eagle Farm, was not in doubt to race in the Q22 because of potential track firmness.
But, with little rain on the Brisbane radar for the next week and a half, she hoped track managers heeded her message to put extra water on the track.
Neasham said the Q22 – offering a $720,000 winning bonanza – was just too hard to ignore for Zaaki.
“With that sort of money to the winner, it is hard to not go there really,” Neasham said.
“He’s a European horse and he’s not used to having a holiday so I can still give him a few weeks off and have him ready to run in September in the spring.
“After the Q22 he will spell in Queensland.”
Originally published as‘Very firm’ Eagle Farm track worries Zaaki trainer
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