What a horse Zipping was. Four Sandown Classics, a victory in the Turnball Stakes, an Australian Cup triumph as well as a Moonee Valley Cup. Let’s not forget three fourths in the Melbourne Cup (2006, ’07 and ’10), two seconds and a third in Australia’s best race – The WS Cox Plate, a second in the Turnball to go with his win in the 2010 edition of the race and a third in the Mackinnon Stakes on the Saturday before running fourth in the cup.
The Lloyd Williams gelding amassed $4,320,195 over 45 starts which included 15 wins and 10 minor placings. Over the past four years the son of Danehill has owned the Sandown Classic and now has his named stamped on the race for years to come, literally.
The 2011 Zipping Stakes (former Sandown Classic) has a small yet exceptionally strong field assembled – the same amount of runners who took on Zipping last year.
REVIEWING THE FIELD
The big black and beautiful looking seven year-old stallion Americain wears the number one saddlecloth. The 2010 Melbourne Cup winner is backing up after running a colossal fourth (came from near last, widest of all into the straight and broke a minute for his last five furlongs) in the 2011 Melbourne Cup second up from a spell and with 58kgs on his back. He will be awfully hard to beat. The query is that Americain has never raced three times so close to each other. Alain de Royer Dupre’s travelling foreman, Stephanie Nigge, told the media at Werribee that his star galloper is “flying” and that Americain is in good health, feeling fresh and has put on 3kgs since his fourth in the cup. A win will see Americain continue his preparation to contest the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) in December. Lamasery’s trainer David Vandyke pointed out the obvious in that “Americain has to come back from 3200m to 2400m in less than two weeks.”
Mourayan was scratched on Cup day due to a hoof problem. Lloyd Williams is aiming to make it five in a row with his navy blue and white silks going passed the post first. Mourayan was impressive in the Bart Cummings before backing up 27 days later and running second to Glass Harmonium in the Mackinnon Stakes.
The Luca Cumani trained Manighar is another backing up after the Melbourne Cup in which he ran a gallant fifth. The gelding’s fifth placing came after a fourth in the Caulfield Cup. Dwayne Dunn jumps aboard the six year-old replacing Damian Oliver and steps back to a more suitable distance of 2400m. However, Manighar goes up 5kgs and meets Americain well worse (4kgs) in the weights. He is sure to run a positive race however a place best for me. Manighar finished third in last year’s Sandown Classic.
The lightly raced and ultra consistent Lamasery was very good in his win on cup day over the 1800m (Johnnie Walker Stales – LR). Lamasery stormed home from second last position two furlongs from home and ran away from the field to score well by 1.3lengths. The well bred (Commands x Verse (Quest For Fame) gelding has yet to run a bad race and is a proven group performer including two recent group three victories and a third in the Metrop two starts back. The concern is the 59kgs against some world class gallopers and at weight-for-age, nevertheless he is highly promising.
The final runner in the field is Saptapadi. I’m still surprised how this horse gained a run in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. Saptapadi has a record boasting 15 starts for one win and three placings with $86,767 in the bank – an average of $5,784. Hard to find a positive for Danny Nikolic’s ride, the best I could come up with is that his only win was over 2400m. Saptapadi will struggle against this lot and the 7kgs rise in weight is yet another negative for this out of form six year-old.
Americain is the odds-on favourite and deserves to be. He is a high class performer with the proven ability to carry big weights in major races. His win in the Moonee Valley Cup was dominant and then he backed that up with an enormous run in the Melbourne Cup. Reports on his recovery are positive and I don’t see why he wouldn’t win.
Manighar was admirable in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. I expect Dunn to either lead or sit just off Mourayan and stick on strong when the pressure is applied in the straight.
Mr. reliable Lamasery rounds out my top three and wouldn’t shock if Brenton Avdulla was waving the whip at the end. Unlike his competitors, Lamasery is stepping up in distance after taking out a nine furlong listed race at Flemington on cup day. Back in September he rose 400m to win the Colin Stephen Hcp (G3) after a successful trip to Rosehill over 2000m in the Kingston Town (G3).