Mark down Zaviera as an exciting staying prospect for Cambridge trainer Roger James and Karaka owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay.
The Zabeel five-year-old mare turned her luck around at Te Rapa last Saturday to emerge as a big hope in the $75,000 Dunstan Feeds Championship Final at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“Really she should have won her last three starts,” said James as he waited for rider Vinnie Colgan to unsaddle Zaviera after her decisive win in the Dunstan Feeds Premier.
“She has just needed to mature and that’s why she’s lightly raced. She was impressive today.”
Zaviera began racing in March last year and showed promise with placings over 1600 in her first two starts then after a further placing, a second, over the same trip in her fourth start she was stepped up to 2200 at Ellerslie 12 months ago and relished the distance, racing away to win by almost three lengths.
James gave her three further starts in that summer campaign for a couple of placings then after a freshen-up she had one start in early winter before being spelled.
Though Zaviera hadn’t won until last Saturday in her current campaign, she has been runner-up three times and third once in her four appearances. She went down a nose at Te Aroha last month and was beaten by the same margin at Ellerslie eight days ago.
Swapping the standard blinkers for visor blinkers and the step up from 2200 to 2400 played into her hands, though she did pull hard in the early stages.
Once asked for a home-stretch effort by Colgan she charged away to win by three and three-quarter lengths from Nolawood and ran strongly right to the finish.
It was a performance which could see her go beyond the Dunstan Feeds Championship Final and become a serious Cups horse.
Zaviera’s win was some minor compensation for a couple of big-race seconds at Te Rapa for James. Tavy charged home for second to Natuzzi in the Listed J. Swap Contractors Sprint, while The Tidy Express fought strongly for the same placing behind Vavasour in the Gr. 3 Skycity Hamilton Waikato Cup.
Though nothing could be taken away from Natuzzi’s performance, Tavy ran a slasher and has left James with a few decisions to make.
“I don’t exactly know where she’ll go,” said James yesterday. “She looks to have come through it well and I’m holding a few options. There’s the Rich Hill Mile but I might even bring her back to 1200 for the Telegraph at Trentham.”
The Tidy Express, who is in foal to Makfi, is in the twilight of her career and her effort to wind up a length and a half from Vavasour was full of merit. She lost ground when the pace went on across the top, but rallied well over the final stages after a bump with Decorah halfway down the straight.
“She’ll go to the City Of Auckland Cup and I don’t know how much further I can keep going with her being in foal,” said James.
James also saddled up Delago’s Secret in the Waikato Cup and was disappointed with his eighth placing, six and a half lengths from the winner.
“He was going to the City Of Auckland, but I’ll just see how he does in the next few days,” said James. “He was disappointing.”
Miss Foxwood was James’ second runner in the J. Swap Contractors Sprint and she finished fifth, a length and a quarter from Natuzzi. “She was a bit stiff,” said James. “I’m not certain where I will go with her next.”
James also had no joy down at Awapuni with Cool Tart, who finished fifth to Coldplay in the Gr. 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes.
“She was held up in the straight and by the time she was clear the bird had flown,” said James. “She’ll probably go straight into the Royal Stakes.”
- Cambridge JC | Pic Race Images