Jockey Mark Zahra is confident that Cao Cao will prove tough to beat in the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and geldings after partnering the promising two-year-old in a barrier trial at Caulfield on Tuesday morning.
Cao Cao more than stamped himself as a colt to follow through two impressive starts in late spring and while initially considering the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) on January 14th as his first point of call this, trainer Mick Price elected to bypass the feature with a view towards the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes.
The Fastnet Rock colt took up the pace in the Caulfield hit-out and found a good rhythm in transit, before extending to the line to record a comfortable win over a number of unraced two-year-olds.
Zahra is confident that Cao Cao is exactly where he needs to be in the lead-up to the Group 3 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude C&G (1100m) on February 11th.
“He trialled super. He should win a trial against unraced horses and opposition that are probably still a bit green but he couldn’t have done it any better,” Zahra told Racing Victoria.
“That’s as sharp as he’s been. He flew out of the gates, travelled very sweetly and when I gave him a little click going up the hill he quickened up nicely. He’s on the right track for sure.
“He trialled last week and I think he trialled nicely but he’s gone better today and is improving all the time.”
Trialling competitively in the lead-up to his racing debut, Cao Cao was settled within the field of twelve in the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) on November 5th and was produced late to finish second behind Aspect.
Firming into favouritism in the hours leading up to the Whiteman Property Plate (1000m) most recently on November 26th, the colt out of Encosta De Lago mare Serenada never appeared in doubt and savaged the line to record a dominant three length win.
Cao Cao is currently considered a $21 chance in early 2017 Blue Diamond Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.