Carnival is heating up as blinkers go on Zabeels

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 Carnival is heating up as blinkers go on Zabeels Empty Carnival is heating up as blinkers go on Zabeels

Post  akaishuu on Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:16 pm

IT IS normally obvious when the spring carnival hits top gear. The football is finished (well, almost), the weather warms up (well, not quite), the television cameras suddenly appear (oops, wrong again) and the blinkers are applied to a Zabeel galloper as he steps to October's first group 1 race (hooray).

For the racing industry, the spring spotlight may have been dimmed by the replayed AFL grand final this weekend, but for the connections of runners in the Turnbull Stakes, the importance of Sunday's race remains nothing less than critical. That point was drummed home in the cold yesterday morning at Flemington by the wealth of talent that strode down the famous straight in preparation for the group 1 race that not only offers the winner the lion's share of the $500,000 prize, but also grants the winner a ballot-free ride into the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
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But not all gallopers in Sunday's Turnbull Stakes need to win to secure a start. Some, like Zabeel's promising son Zabrasive, instead need to prove they are going well enough just two weeks out from his first major assignment, the Caulfield Cup. In two runs this campaign, Zabrasive has performed only fairly, with a first-up fifth in the Memsie Stakes followed by a lacklustre 10th in the Underwood Stakes.

But he wore no headgear in either start and, for a horse like Zabrasive, the addition of blinkers is sometimes akin to flicking a switch.

''You know what they say about Zabeels - they give you a free set of blinkers when you buy one,'' trainer John O'Shea quipped yesterday. ''The blinkers help him no end. He should run very well on [Sunday].''

Yesterday, wearing the same red blinkers that won him the Rosehill Guineas last autumn, Zabrasive was among the best workers of the morning as jockey Craig Newitt kept a good hold of him as he strode out boldly with fellow Zabeel galloper, and Turnbull Stakes contender, Jessicabeel.

''He's got to be competitive [on Sunday] as we look ahead [to the cups],'' O'Shea said. ''It's a very hard race but if he runs well it will make his foundation for the Caulfield Cup, and I'd be very surprised if the Caulfield Cup winner [doesn't come out of] the Turnbull.''

Sydney Cup winner Jessicabeel did not have the aid of the shades and so O'Shea was hardly panicking about her, despite her less-impressive gallop and her two moderate runs in Sydney to start off her campaign.

''She's a lot bigger than the other horse and she put on a lot of weight in the off-season, so she's probably going to need a couple of more runs,'' he said. ''Without the blinkers she has always been a lazy trackworker, but he [Zabrasive] was there to get his game back on, and it looks as though he did.''

Earlier, one of Zabrasive's more familiar combatants also took to Flemington for the first time and, like Zabrasive, Shoot Out was out to impress.

''They [he worked with import Buccellati] weren't out to kill each other but I thought he went pretty good,'' trainer John Wallace said. ''He's relaxing more every day he's been here [in Melbourne].''

As for getting to Flemington for the first time after a few beaten runs at the smaller Caulfield and Moonee Valley tracks, Wallace offered: ''It'll help, and I've been dying to ride him quiet, and that's how we'll ride him on Sunday.''

Zabrasive and Shoot Out have met four times and Shoot Out has a 3-1 advantage, but there has never been any more than 3.8 lengths between them.

Other Turnbull Stakes hopefuls to also impress yesterday were Mike Moroney's Monaco Consul, as well as Metal Bender and Bart Cummings' derby-winning mare Dariana. On hand also for a rare trip to Flemington was owner Lloyd Williams, who watched four of his elite staying team - Zipping, Mourayan, Interlocking and C'est La Guerre - go through their paces away from the normal surrounds of his Mount Macedon property.

The weekend looms as a crunch day for Williams's cups team as he targets races at Flemington and also Randwick, where one of his horses will tackle the Metropolitan Handicap or Craven Plate.

steve harmisson

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 Carnival is heating up as blinkers go on Zabeels Empty Re: Carnival is heating up as blinkers go on Zabeels

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