Zanbagh Primed for Festival Stakes

By: Jared Timms
November 23rd, 2015

Notable Group 1 performer Zanbagh posted a commanding first-up win in her debut for John Thompson a fortnight ago and is on track for a return to black type company in Saturday’s Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

Zanbagh will contest Saturday's Listed Festival Stakes at Rosehill second-up. Photo: Steve Hart

Zanbagh will contest Saturday’s Listed Festival Stakes at Rosehill second-up. Photo: Steve Hart

Zanbagh was considered an outsider at $21 odds leading into the Cellarbrations Wyong Handicap (1350m) but did her chances of success absolutely no harm when jumping well and settling in prime position on the heels of the race’s early leaders.

Offered a clear racing line upon arriving at the final straight, jockey Kathy O’Hara allowed the Bernardini mare time to balance before asking for an extra effort; the five-year-old responding with a big turn of foot to hit the line close to a length ahead of closest rival Frespanol.

Thompson has been thrilled with the condition taken by Zanbagh from her first-up run and believes her form is far-too good to miss a run in the 2015 Festival Stakes on Saturday before then targeting the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 12th.

“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.”

Zanbagh began her racing career under the guidance of the late, great Guy Walter until his sudden passing following the 2014 Autumn Carnival; passing through the care of Patrick Payne before arriving at Thompson’s Randwick stables following a lacklustre winter preparation.

“She was on the retired list and I was very surprised to get the call to train her,” Thompson added.

“It was a nice surprise and I couldn’t be happier.”

Zanbagh has won four of her 24 competitive starts since first appearing on course in the early stages of 2013; finishing in the first three a further four times.

Immediately stamping her claims as one to watch, Zanbagh undoubtedly found career-best form to date through her three-year-old campaigns; highlighted by a win in the Group 3 Keith F Nolan Classic (1600m) and close second place finishes in each of the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) and Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).

Nominations for the 2015 Festival Stakes are due this morning, while a final field and barrier draw will be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.

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