Racing superstar Zaaki has set his sights on adding The All-Star Mile trophy to his growing list of accomplishments after his trainer Annabel Neasham nominated the three-time Group 1 winner for the world’s richest mile race.
Having signed off his Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an emphatic win in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), the seven-year-old is being readied for a return to Flemington when it hosts the fourth edition of Australia’s only fan-voted race on Saturday, 19 March 2022.
Given his profile in Australia, where he has won six of his nine starts and earned almost $4 million in prizemoney, Zaaki is likely to prove extremely popular with the voting public when The All-Star Mile polls open on Monday, 24 January.
“His record here speaks for itself so you’d like to think he’ll receive enough votes to get into the top 10,” said Neasham, who has also nominated Zaaki’s stablemate and fellow import Top Ranked for the All-Star Mile.
“The All-Star Mile is a very attractive race for Zaaki, we’d want to have him wound up and ready to go so we’d probably look to have one lead-up race in Sydney before taking him to Melbourne. We’ll likely only give him three runs during the autumn because we’re very keen to bring him back down to Melbourne for the Cox Plate at the end of next year.
“His spring campaign was a real rollercoaster ride, obviously we were very disappointed to have to withdraw him from the Cox Plate on the morning of the race, but to win the Mackinnon was a pretty big consolation prize. There are a few VRC people in his ownership group, so I’m sure it would’ve been a huge thrill for them to see him win the Mackinnon in such style on their home track.
“We know he likes Flemington and I’m pretty confident he’s as good over a mile as he is over 2000 metres, so The All-Star Mile should suit him down to the ground.
“I really like the concept of The All-Star Mile, there’s already been a big buzz even though it’s only been on the calendar for a few years now, so hopefully we can get both our horses into the race.”
Top Ranked has only been seen once since arriving on Australian shores earlier this year, with a close third under James McDonald in The Hunter behind Lost And Running – who, like Zaaki, is also part-owned by Carl Holt – showing he had adapted well to his new environment.
Intriguingly, Australian Bloodstock are the majority owners of Top Ranked and the successful syndicate will be hoping to follow the same path with him as Mugatoo, who claimed the 2021 All-Star Mile in such thrilling fashion at The Valley in March.
“If anything Top Ranked has even better form in Europe than Zaaki did, so he’s a serious racehorse and we have high hopes for him next year,” said Neasham.
“I think a race like The All-Star Mile would be tailor-made for him, so I really hope we can get him in because I think he’d have a good chance. He’s my first horse with Australian Bloodstock, they obviously had a lot of success with Mugatoo so I’m sure they’d love to have another crack at The All-Star Mile with Top Ranked next year.”
The additions of Zaaki and Mugatoo have embellished an already impressive array of nominations for The All-Star Mile, with Group 1 winners Superstorm (trained by Danny O’Brien), Aegon (Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman), I’m Thunderstruck (Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr) and the pride of South Australia Behemoth (David Jolly) all aiming to add their names to an illustrious rollcall of champions.
Every $500 nomination fee will be donated to The All-Star Mile’s official charity, the Good Friday Appeal. First nominations close on Monday, 10 January, with the late nominations period closing on Monday, 17 January before the public vote opens one week later.
Once the polls have closed on Sunday, 13 February, the votes will be verified and counted with the 10 most popular horses announced by Racing Victoria on or before Saturday, 19 February.