Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman win Avondale Cup with Zacada

The powerful Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman training partnership added another feature event to their season’s tally with enigmatic gelding Zacada coming of age with a gritty victory in the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie.

The powerful Cambridge operation saddled three runners in the event with Zacada proving best of the trio as he demonstrated his undoubted staying ability to race to a two-length victory over Matamata mare Wildflower and race favourite Five To Midnight.

Heavy showers earlier in the day saw the track rated a Slow 8 for the contest which played into the hands of the five-year-old Zabeel gelding who relished the tricky conditions. Handled patiently by rider Danielle Johnson, the pair tracked up behind a wall of horses disputing the pace at the 500-metre mark before easing to the outer to make their powerful finishing burst.

Despite hitting the front early in the run home Zacada kept going powerfully to land a deserved prize.

“He’s been building towards winning a good race,” said Forsman.

“He finished second to Chenille in the Nathans Memorial last year and when he did that I thought then he could win a good race.”

Forsman was unsure of the future plans for the horse, preferring instead to take time to analyse the best path forward.
“We will sit down and work it out with his owners on where to next,” he said.

“They have been very good at letting us do what we want with him.

“It’s paid off as he is a Zabeel, who is a bit quirky, but he’s finally maturing and getting there. He’s not easy and Danielle did a great job.

“She just waited and waited as it was always going to be a staying test in those conditions.”

Johnson was complimentary of Zacada’s efforts after he provided her with her first stakes victory of the carnival.

“I got in behind the right horses to track up into it and he has just sprinted away at the end,” she said.

“He is still pretty quirky as he took off on me coming back to scale, so he definitely still has a lot to learn, but I think he can go on with it.”

The win extended Baker and Forsman’s lead at the head of the National Trainer’s Premiership which they sit atop with 59 wins, 21 clear of nearest rivals Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards.

The pair added further black-type success one race later when Coldplay triumphed in a desperate finish to the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) –

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