Zaaki, Profondo headline Group 1 stars at Warwick Farm trials

Zaaki wins The Q22 at Eagle Farm
Zaaki was among the star runners to trial up at Warwick Farm on Monday morning.

A star-studded trial kicked off proceedings at Warwick Farm on Monday morning as five Group 1 winners stepped out in the 1000m Group Trial on the course proper.

Although the trial was won by Peter & Paul Snowden’s Group 1-winning sprinter Wild Ruler, all eyes were on Zaaki and Profondo, who did their best work late.

Profondo justified the hype surrounding his name in the spring, when he won the Spring Champion Stakes in emphatic fashion at just his third career start.

The $1.9 million yearling purchase had his first hit-out of the autumn campaign this morning, so he was a little bit rusty early, but he looked to work through his gears stylishly in the concluding stages under Robbie Dolan, finishing 3.3 lengths away in sixth place.

The three-year-old is set to resume in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas on March 5, where he is one of the more fancied runners alongside Anamoe, Espiona and Converge.

Zaaki had his second and final trial before his first-up assignment in the Canterbury Stakes on March 5, where he is the $3.50 second favourite behind Saturday’s Southern Cross Stakes winner, Lost And Running ($2.50).

Annabel Neasham saddled up three runners in the trial, with Top Ranked (3rd) and Mo’unga (9th) joining Zaaki.

Top Ranked was given a solid gallop as he gears up for his return in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes on February 26 at Royal Randwick.

The big grey raced wide for much of this morning’s trial before being pushed along in the final furlong to keep up with sprinters Wild Ruler and Forbidden Love, with the latter already having raced this autumn in the Expressway Stakes.

Top Ranked received plenty of market support for the Chipping Norton after last Wednesday’s exhibition gallop with Zaaki. The Australian Bloodstock-owned galloper firmed from $26 into $9 for the 1600m Group 1 event, where Think It Over ($3) and Verry Elleegant ($3.50) sit at the top of the market after their return runs in the Apollo Stakes on Saturday at Randwick.

In the second trial of the morning, Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott pair Vangelic and In The Congo set a solid tempo and paired off to finish first and second respectively in the 900m gallop.

Catching the eye late was Joe Pride’s Private Eye, who worked home very stylishly to run third under Regan Bayliss. The four-year-old gelding had a terrific Spring Carnival, highlighted by an extraordinary win in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap where he stormed home down the centre of the track to win by 0.14 lengths.

He then finished midfield in the $7.5 million Golden Eagle, before running fifth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington over the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Private Eye will likely target the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he is $15 and $26 respectively.

Three Group 2 races will be contested at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday, February 19, with the Hobartville Stakes, Millie Fox Stakes and Silver Slipper all attracting strong nominations.

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