Zealand Star could be the tote-toppler for a memorable New Year’s Eve
At first glance Zealand Star would seem to have little chance in the fifth race at Alexandra Park on Monday.
But while his 84848 formline looks the worst in the race, and he starts from a second row draw against some very progressive opposition, he’s a much better prospect than his big odds will suggest.
Zealand Star has not paced a bad race since owner Merv Butterworth sent him north to Lincoln Farms from Lauren Pearson’s Winton stable.
- First-up he became buried on the markers and went to the line hard held with nowhere to go, only 3.7 lengths from the winner Solid Gold.
- At his next start on December 14 he ran fourth, pacing a sizzling 2:40.1 behind Ideal Star.
- And last time he finished eighth over a mile, just 5.2 lengths from winner Bounty Lady, a herculean performance after breaking as the gate left and settling 60 metres from the leaders.
Zealand Star clocked by far the fastest last 800 metres in that race, 55.6, with a red hot 27.6 third quarter.
On Monday the inside second row draw could actually be a godsend for this true-blue sit-sprinter as he follows out gate flier American Empress.
Three starts back, from the same ace draw, Sailesh Abernethy gunned American Empress out to lead a strong field in the Northern Breeders’ Stakes.
A repeat of those tactics could see Zealand Star land a dream trail and allow him to use his good turn of foot up the passing lane.
Trainer Ray Green reports Zealand Star has trained stylishly this week, a likely result of his hocks being injected.
“His hocks had been worrying him and he trained very well this morning and is looking very good.
“It’s all about draws and trips - not many can get a bad trip and excel - and while there are some nice types against him, if he could get a trail he’d be a chance.’’
Zachary Butcher takes the reins on Monday from junior driver Andrew Drake.
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Our runners this week
Saturday night at Albion Park
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Frisco Bay
“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”
Race 2: Lenny Lincoln
“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”
Race 3: Obadiah Dragon
“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”
Race 3: Leo Lincoln
“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”