Neasham is clearing excited about the chances of Zaaki this winter and believes her runner may be something of a winter specialist having relished the Queensland tracks in 2021 when winning the Hollindale Stakes, Doomben Cup and Q22 during last years Winter Carnival.
“I think from what I’m seeing at home that Zaaki is in as good a form now, if not better, as when he went up to Queensland last year,” Neasham said.
“Maybe he just loves this time of year.
“I couldn’t fault him too much in the spring, but he just wasn’t quite as good as he is at this time of year.
“For whatever reason he just seems to thrive at this time of year.
“He went to the paddock for a week after the Queen Elizabeth and when I got him of the paddock he had put on a bit of weight.
“He is just getting bigger and stronger, even J-Mac (James McDonald) said that when he came out and galloped him last week.”
Zaaki announced himself as a top grade horse in 2022 when winning with style during the Queensland Carnival and if it hadn’t have been for a brilliant ride by Nash Rawiller at Randwick last month he would have won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes as well.
There were plenty of options available to Zaaki including racing in Hong Kong or a trip to Royal Ascot however Neasham decided that a trip to Queensland was the answer after a lot of persuasion by connections and sponsors.
“We got an email from the guys at Royal Ascot suggesting that Zaaki should come over and I was pretty keen to do that,” Neasham said.
“But some of the owners, and you’ve got to respect their decision, they were keen to keep him here.
“There is obviously great prizemoney up in Queensland and a lot of the owners are from Victoria and they are very keen to win the Cox Plate.
“We were trying to gather as much information about Royal Ascot as we could, flight times and things, but in the end we decided on Queensland.
“He heads to Queensland in top form.
“Certainly his Queen Elizabeth run was massive, obviously Nash outsmarted us and Think It Over is a good horse but that was a big run from Zaaki on (heavy) ground that we didn’t think he would like.”
Neasham did not close the door on a trip to Ascot in 2023 however remains focused on the task at hand with the Hollindale Stakes where Zaaki currently sits as a $1.70 favourite.