Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra is hoping to start his Hong Kong contract on a high note and hopefully fly out with the Doomben 10,000 trophy packed safely away his suitcase.
Zahra has picked up the ride on defending Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 winner Beaded in Saturday’s Group 1 $650,000 1350m WFA race at Doomben.
Trainer Peter Snowden secured the services of Zahra after stable rider Kerrin McEvoy was booked for stablemate Pinwheel and is looking forward to being reunited with the top class sprinter.
“I had a few rides at Caulfield on Saturday but after the third race at Geelong Paul Snowden got me out of the jockeys’ room and asked if I was interested in riding up there,” Zahra said.
“I said, ‘bloody oath’ and got the ride. It’d be great to win it for Darley.”
“Her run was really good last start, she won the race last year and she’s suited at the weight-for-age, so hopefully we can go out on a winning note,” he said.
Zahra is no stranger to Beaded and steered her to a win in the Group 3 $125,000 Hyderabad Race Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in February last year and was also aboard when second to Response in the 2011 Group 1 $350,000 Sportingbet Classic (1200m) at Morphettville two starts later.
He scored his second Hong Kong contract for the remainder of the season after several riders were suspended or seeking early releases from their contracts.
“I rode there once when I was younger, it might have been eight years ago, when I was not long out of my apprenticeship,” Zahra said.
“I was pretty young, but it was a good experience and it’s always been in the back of my mind to go back at some stage.”
“Even though it’s the end of the season I hope I can do well and form a few connections over there.”
Snowden had a change of heart with Beaded and originally was going to retire the Lonhro mare but decided to give her one last chance to regain her best form before going to stud.
Blinkers were added to Beaded for the Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben two weeks ago and Snowden was rewarded with an improved third to Sea Siren.
Her work this week has been good and Snowden is going into Saturday’s race full of confidence.
“That was encouraging but I still wasn’t convinced until I saw how well she looked and worked this week,” Snowden said.
“She’s as bright as a button. I’m happy to have her in the 10,000 now and maybe even the Stradbroke as well.”
The Group 1 $1m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) is run at Eagle Farm in two weeks and the six year old mare has 56kgs and is currently at $17 with stablemate Mental the ruling favourite at $7.
Snowden is also upbeat about the 10,000 chances of Pinwheel who is coming off a second to Tiger Tees in the Listed $100,000 Carolyn Griffin Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 28.
BTC Cup winner Sea Siren is the $4.20 favourite for the 10,000 ahead of Buffering ($5.50) who has been under an injury cloud.
The Tim Martin trained Pampelonne shares the second line of betting with Buffering while Pinwheel is at $14 with Beaded one point behind at $15.
The Doomben track is rated a Good 3 at the moment but with rain forecast before the weekend, the track is sure to be reassessed before Saturday.