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Australian Racing: Age no barrier for Zaaki

There’s nine meetings set to take place this Sunday with the highlights coming at Sandown Hillside with the Group 1 Underwood Stakes one of two Group races on the card.

Zaaki for Underwood glory

Veteran campaigner Zaaki showed no signs of age catching up with him when delivering a victory in the 1400m Group 2 Tramway Stakes on a heavy 10 track at Randwick when racing first up earlier this month and he is expected to jump as favourite in the previously mentioned Underwood Stakes.

Annabel Neasham’s charged showed good form last spell winning twice including in a Group 2 over this trip at Gold Coast in May and the step back up in trip should prove no issue for the gelding who has shown good form on the forecast soft going in the past.

The market suggests that I’m Thunderstruck will prove to be the eight-year-old’s main rival with the gelding having won at the top level when taking out the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m at Flemington.

However Mark Zahra’s mount has only raced over further than 1600m once with that effort resulting in a heavy defeat in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m back in April and with that in mind Zaaki is taken to register back-to-back wins in this race. 

Dragon for Sandown success

Trainer Annabel Neasham looks to hold strong claims of taking out the other Group race on the Sandown Hillside card, the 1500m Group 3 Sandown Stakes due off as the penultimate race on a nine race card.

Military Expert is the handlers representative here with the four-year-old entire coming into this event on the back of two wins this spell having followed up a triumph in a Benchmark 84 event over 1400m at Caulfield last month with a victory in the Drummond Golf Handicap over 1600m at Moonee Valley.

Made all the running in that Moonee Valley event but is likely to have a challenger for the lead in the shape of Gentleman Roy who is a confirmed front-runner.

Preference here is for Dragon Leap, who showed good form when runner-up in an 1100m stakes event in New Zealand when racing first up last month.

The switch to Australia appeared to bring about no issues when the gelding came home a solid three-and-a-half-length fourth in the 1400m Group 1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield later that month and having shown good form over further in New Zealand in the past he is taken to provide jockey Blake Shinn with a victory dropping in grade. 

Crusader for Cup triumph

With Tarn’s Prince a non-runner the Bathurst Cup over 1800m at Bathurst is set to have a field of 16 go to post.

Cognac was the winner of a Benchmark 72 event over 1550m on a soft 5 track at Randwick Kensington on his penultimate start and he followed that effort up with a close up fifth in the 1600m Dubbo Gold Cup at Dubbo earlier this month.

That Dubbo Gold Cup effort came on a heavy 9 surface and while the gelding hasn’t won on a heavy track in the past he has shown he handles it even if quicker going would be preferred.

While Martini Crusader is unproven on heavy going he has yet to finish outside of the top two in five starts on soft tracks and gives hope that the wetter track here will prove no issue.

The son of Pride Of Dubai has finished runner-up on all three starts since breaking his maiden over 1400m at Newcastle last month with the most recent of those efforts coming when runner-up in a Class 1 over 1850m on a soft 7 track at the same venue earlier this month.

Versatile with regards tactics Stephen O’Halloran’s charge is selected to double his career tally with a win on his first start at this venue.

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