Dual Oaks placegetter Zanbagh is among the twenty-two nominations for the Listed $150,000 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Zanbagh showed great staying potential as a three year old filly after being runner up in both the Group 1 $1m Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival and in the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
But the now five year old mare scored her first win since May 2014 when she beat Frespanol in the $85,000 November Handicap over 1350m at Rosehill just over a week ago.
Trainer John Thompson had originally planned to bypass the Festival Stakes and head straight to the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers (1600m) at Randwick on December 12 but Zanbagh had pulled up that well he decided to run this week.
“We were thinking about giving her a month between runs and going to the Villiers next,” Thompson told AAP.
“But because she is doing so well in the stable I rang (owner) Sandy Tait and said she should run in the Festival.
“It is really good to have a mare of her quality in the stable and she is just thriving.”
Premiership leader Chris Waller has nominated four for the Festival Stakes, Heart Testa, I’m Imposing, She’s Clean and last start winner Telepathic.
All four horses have been around the money recently with Heart Testa running fourth to Zanbagh in the November Handicap, I’m Imposing finishing third in the Group 3 $125,000 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on October 3, She’s Clean filling the runner’s up stall in the Group 3 $150,000 Summoned Stakes (1500m) at Sandown on November 14 and Telepathic being rewarded for her consistency with a last start win in 1500m BenchMark 84 Handicap at Rosehill a week ago.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Frespanol is also nominated for the Festival Stakes and has been racing in fine form with a win two starts back in a 1600m $85,000 Randwick Handicap on October 24 followed by a second to Zanbagh at Rosehill three weeks later.
Waterhouse has also entered Pheidon who hasn’t raced since running seventh over 1800m at Rosehill on May 30.
Rosehill trainer Gerald Ryan has nominated Peace Force and Red Excitement while the Hawkes Racing Team has only entered six year old Ninth Legion.
The powerful Godolphin stable under the care John O’Shea have only one in the Festival Stakes nominations with English import It’s Somewhat.
It’s Somewhat was a first up winner on Australia soil for O’Shea back in February when he took out the Group 3 $150,000 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Warwick Farm but has been unplaced at his next three starts, his latest being a seventh to Hooked in the Group 2 $175,000 Tattersalls Club Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 5.
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