Classy New Zealand mare Zonza gave trainer Roger James a fabulous start to his big week at Caulfield by recording an impressive win in the Group 3 Snowhite Maintenance Classic (1600m) this afternoon.
Zonza made her Australian racing debut earlier this year, finishing ninth in the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) at Hawkesbury and second behind Moriarty in the Listed Lord Mayors Cup (2000m), but lived up to her form in New Zealand with a tough win today.
The daughter of Zabeel was forced to work hard in the early stages of the race but was still too strong for the rest of the field in the final stages of the race; holding off Bonaria and brave leader Two Sugars to score a comfortable win.
Roger James is confident that he can win the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) with Silent Achiever on Saturday but was clearly happy to pick-up a rare win in Australia and was quick to pay credit to the clever ride from Damien Oliver.
“She got the job done, it was probably a bit differently to how she has done it in the past, but that is why you put those top riders on,” James said.
“I love a rider that can make a decision; whether it is right or wrong you have to put your neck on the line and it proved right.”
James has a big opinion of Zonza and he confirmed that she will remain in Australia for the remainder of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival; with the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 9 on the agenda for the five-year-old
“It is a definite prospect, we have one or two options at this time of the year and we will sit down after today’s performance and take in what Damien has to say as well and hopefully come up with the best result,” James said.
“You can’t underestimate just how valuable these black type races in Australia are for a broad mare and if I get anything above average this is where they come to try and win something.”
Oliver was full of praise for Zonza after the race and said he is looking forward to sticking with the mare for the remainder of her campaign in Australia.
“It was a good tough effort today,” Oliver said.
“The leader made us chase it getting into the straight but she knuckled down and stayed on well.”
The 2012 edition of the race formerly known as the Ladies Day Vase was won by the recently retired mare Star Of Giselle who went on to win the Group 3 Tesio Stakes (1600m) at Monee Valley on Cox Plate Day.