In-form mare Zennista heads a strong contingent of New Zealand horses who will be out to steal Caloundra Cup (2400m) glory from their Australian counterparts at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
The five-year-old will be having her fourth start at Queensland’s winter carnival after impressing in three lead-up runs.
While the Lisa Latta-trained stayer hasn’t found the winner’s stall this campaign, her runs have been full of merit. Yet to finish worse than fourth in the Sunshine State, Zennista will appreciate a drop back in class this weekend after finishing a strong third behind Moriarty and Quintessential in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup.
Top Brisbane-based jockey Damian Browne will take over the ride in the absence of Leith Inness.
Zennista is one of four Kiwis entered for the $200,000 staying test, joined in nominations by High Kin, Endor and I Gotta Feeling.
While Endor and I Gotta Feeling face a rise in class if they line up on Saturday, High Kin booked her spot as a top Caloundra Cup chance when producing a barnstorming finish to run second in the Listed Ipswich Cup on Australian debut on June 15.
Trainer David Greene said after her Ipswich Cup performance that he expects High Kin to improve with extra distance and more room to move around the bigger Caloundra track.
“Unfortunately the winning post came up a few metres short, otherwise she would have got up. She found the line very well though,” Greene said.
The Graeme Rogerson-trained Endor is set to be given another shot at black-type level after bouncing back from his Premier’s Cup failure last month to win a benchmark 85 race at the Sunshine Coast.
Coming off a Sunshine Coast second is I Gotta Feeling who comes from the stable of John Wheeler, who is most famous for training champion galloper Rough Habit.