Blake Shinn will partner Zanbagh in the 2014 Australian Oaks on Saturday and the in-form jockey is hoping that the Royal Randwick track will dry out before the running of the $1 million race.
Zanbagh stamped herself as favourite for the Australian Oaks after she scored a strong win over Role Model and Metaphorical in the Group 3 Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) at Kembla Grange on March 23, but has drifted in betting markets for the Group 1 event after she could finish no better than fifth in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
The Bernardini filly wore races plates and bar plates in the Vinery Stud Stakes, after she hurt her heel during the running of the Keith Nolan, and Shinn is confident that the three-year-old will produce an improved performance without the bar plates in the Australian Oaks this weekend.
“To me her wheels were just spinning in the real heavy ground last start,” Shinn told TVN.
“Whether that was not getting traction with those shoes on I’m not quite sure but she certainly didn’t quicken like she can.
“Hopefully it is a little dryer.”
Zanbagh jumped from the outside barrier in the Vinery Stud Stakes, but her luck turned around when she drew gate six when the 2014 Australian Oaks and barrier was released yesterday afternoon.
Shinn will be looking to push further forward on Zanbagh in the Australian Oaks and he is confident that the tough filly will run out the 2400 metre trip strongly after she finished a narrow second behind Kirramosa when ridden on the pace in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
“Naturally I think she will race a little closer because of the draw,” Shinn said.
“I think she is going to be very hard to beat and I think that she can bounce back.”
Zanbagh ($6) is currently on the second line of 2014 Australian Oaks betting markets; with Vinery Stud Stakes winner Lucia Valentina a dominant favourite at odds of $2.50.
Shinn is chasing his first win the Australian Oaks after finishing second with Aliyana Tilde in 2012 and missing the placings with Zuccotto (2013), Valdemoro (2010), Above Perfection (2009) and Command Decision (2005).