Talented colt Zoustar is one step closer to a return to racing after finishing fourth in a barrier trial over 850 metres at Royal Randwick this morning.
Zoustar was kept under a heavy hold at the tail of the field throughout the trial by jockey Jimmy Cassidy, but made up ground in the final stages to finish fourth behind Tiger Tees, who fought off a late challenge from Everage.
The son of Northern Meteor looks to have returned from the spelling paddock in good condition and is expected to be given at least one more barrier trial appearance before he returns to racing in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick on March 15.
Zoustar will then take part in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12 before he has what could be his final ever race start in Australia in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at the same venue on April 26.
A trip to the United Kingdom for the 2014 Royal Ascot meeting is also on the agenda for Zoustar and the three-year-old is set to be given the opportunity to join Choisir (2003), Starspangledbanner (2010) and Black Caviar as Australian winners of the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1207m).
Tiger Tees jumped from the gates well in the barrier trial and led throughout; giving an indication that he may be back to the form that he showed when he took out the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) and Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1100m) in 2012.
The Dubawi gelding has not scored a race win in his part eight starts and failed to fire in two starts during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, finishing eighth in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) and 10th in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m), but trainer Joseph Pride is confident that he can return to the winners stall during his autumn preparation.
Everage has not been seen at the races since he finished fourth behind Northern Glory in the Become An ATC Sponsor Plate (1200m) at Royal Randwick on June 22, but has now impressed in two barrier trial appearances and remains on track to resume in the Group 2 Light Finger Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 22.
Darley mare Cameo, talented gelding Boss Lane, injury-plagued Jolie Bay and Patinack Farm-owned Tremec also competed in the fourth barrier trial of the morning.