Substantial impost for Zed Em in Grand Annual

Zed Em will carry 70kg in Thursday's Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) - Terry Hann
Zed Em will carry 70kg in Thursday's Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m)

Terry Hann

New Zealand bred and owned steeplechaser Zed Em will need to set a modern-day weight record if he is to win Thursday's A$350,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) at Warrnambool.

Zed Em finished second behind Gold Medals in both last year's Brierly Steeplechase (3450m), when he carried 70kg, and the Grand Annual Steeplechase, when he lumped 69.5kg.

But when weights were released for Thursday's 5500-metre feature, Zed Em is being asked to carry 70kg this year in the longest and most demanding horse race on the Australian calendar.

Zed Em, who has won the past two Great Eastern Steeplechases (4950m) at Oakbank, will take a different path to the Annual this year as trainer Patrick Payne has avoided Tuesday's Brierly to save the eight-year-old's legs for the main event two days later.

Instead, Payne will be represented in the eight-horse Brierly by Slowpoke Rodriguez, a son of Istidaad raced by Kevin Myers, who is expected to also chase Thursday's feature.

If Zed Em was to win on Thursday, it would be the heaviest weight carried to victory since The Feline carried the equivalent of 73.5kg in 1950.

Al Garhood with 69kg in 2011 and Planet Hollywood with 68.5kg have the heaviest weights carried since the introduction of the metric Grand Annual in 1973.

Payne also has claims of taking the third jumps feature over the carnival - the Galleywood Hurdle on Wednesday - with his talented hurdler Killarney Kid, another former Kiwi that began his career with Richard Collett.


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