Zanbagh has failed to fire during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but trainer Patrick Payne believes that the 2014 Sandown Cup is the right race for the talented staying mare.
A tilt at the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) was on the agenda for Zanbagh at the start of her spring preparation following her second place finish behind Rising Romance in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) during the autumn, but the Bernardini mare failed to progress to either race.
Zanbagh started her campaign with a ninth place finish in the 1500 metre Handicap at Moonee Valley on August 23 and was not particularly impressive when sixth behind St Jean in the 1600 metres Handicap at the same venue on September 6.
The four-year-old finished a credible third in the Benalla Cup (2046m) on October 5 and was well-backed in the lead-up to the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m), but she finished a disappointing 11th and was ruled out of Melbourne Cup calculations after he was found to be suffering from a bruised heel.
Zanbagh returned to the races in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on November 8 and beat home just a single runner, but Payne believes that the mare will be better suited by the step-up to 3200 metres and the softer track that is expected at Sandown this weekend.
“This preparation has been a bit of a flop; her last run wasn’t too bad but Sandown will have some give in the ground, so this should be a suitable race for her,” Payne told Racing Ahead this morning.
“This preparation has been far from a fairytale, when we tried to get her fit and turn her on it all just went pear-shaped.
“I’d like to think we’re still learning with her.”
Zanbagh made her racing debut under the care of the late Guy Walter and she stamped herself as a horse to watch with a dominant five lengths win at Ballarat on October 24 before she finished a close second behind Kirramosa in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington.
She returned to winning form with an impressive performance in the Group 3 Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) at Kembla Grange on March 23 and she was slightly disappointing when fifth in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5 before she returned to her best form with a second place finish in the Australian Oaks.