Trainer Patrick Payne has confirmed that staying mare Zanbagh will start her Caulfield Cup campaign in the open handicap over 1500 metres at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Zanbagh joined the stable of Payne at the end of the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, after previously being prepared by the late Guy Walter and she made her first public appearance for her new stable with a quiet barrier trial over 990 metres at Cranbourne on August 4.
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) is the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Zanbagh and Payne admits that she will not be at full fitness for her return to racing this weekend, but he expects the Bernardini mare to improve from the run.
“She’s very forward, but she’s not screwed down to run well first-up,” Payne told Racing Victoria,
“We thought if we ran her over 1200 or 1400, they might just run her off her feet a bit and that just drags the guts out of them a bit.
“If she goes into a 1500-metre race she can get into her comfort zone, travel well and be competitive.
“They seem to pull up better that way.”
Zanbagh has only had three race starts in Victoria during her racing career to date, included her second place finish in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington on November 7 last year and will be making her debut at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Payne took Zanbagh to Moonee Valley this morning to give the four-year-old a look at the unique tight-turning track and he thinks that the two-time Group 1 placegetter had benefited from the trip away from her usual training environment.
“She wasn’t there to run any time, but she looked to work pretty well to the eye,” Payne said.
“Basically I just wanted to get her out of the house for the day.
“The trip away is part of their training exercise and when you do that you don’t need to gallop them as quickly I find.”
Zanbagh has recorded three wins from her 12 race starts to date, but she stamped herself as one of the best staying fillies of her generation with second place finishes in both the Crown Oaks and Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).
Four-year-old fillies are well represented at the top of the 2014 Caulfield Cup betting market at Ladbrokes Australia and Zanbagh is currently available at a quote of $21 to win the Group 1 event.