Rugged stayer Zacada turned some below par form around when he out-toughed his rivals carrying 60kgs to take out the Gr.3 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m).
Having his first run since returning from a disappointing Sydney campaign that saw him finish well back in each of his three starts, the 2018 Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) runner-up was back to his best for Saturday’s middle-distance feature at Rotorua.
Rider Jonathan Riddell had the Zabeel six-year-old trucking along nicely in midfield throughout before moving into a challenging position approaching the home turn. Pacemaker Gobstopper had skipped clear at this stage with Zacada’s stablemate Artiste in hot pursuit.
Just as that pair looked likely to fight out the finish, Riddell drove Zacada through against the rail to snatch the lead in the shadows of the post with a game Gobstopper left to settle for the runner-up position ahead of Artiste.
Co-trainer Andrew Forsman, who prepares Zacada with Murray Baker, was confident of a much-improved performance after some encouraging trackwork during the week.
“Whatever went on in Australia, I don’t know whether the Cup company was just too stiff, or he didn’t cop some of those holding tracks he ran into,” Forsman said.
“He’s got through it today and looked the winner a long way out.
“He was the class horse of the field on his day and I don’t think the weight was going to be an issue, it was just where his head was at and if he was on his game, then he was going to be hard to beat.
“His two gallops this week have been first-class, and we were confident in that just knowing that he had to bring his A-game to the races.”
Forsman was also delighted with the run of Artiste who gathered some valuable black type before heading for a possible stint in the spelling paddock.
“She’s doing a great job this preparation,” he said.
“To get some black type, that’s a massive result.”
Bred and raced by dairy farmers Andrew Bryant and Dave Armstrong under their Andari Ltd banner, along with Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan, Zacada has now won five of his 43 career starts for a tick over $714,000 in stakes earnings.
The win by Zacada also carried the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman partnership to 100 wins in New Zealand for the 2018/19 racing season including a record 23 victories at black type level. – NZ Racing Desk