Anthony & Sam Freedman will be hoping that the drop in distance and a trip back to Moonee Valley will be the key ingredients for success with their three-year-old Zouzarella when she competes in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) on Friday night.
The talented filly will have her work cut out chasing last start Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) winner Marabi, but the stable is confident that she can put in a much-improved performance.
The daughter of Zoustar failed to make up much ground last start after settling at the tail of the field in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on a track rated a Heavy 10. This came after a first-up fourth at the same track when beaten less than two lengths behind Fangirl and Espiona in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).
The Mornington-trained galloper may appreciate a trip back to Moonee Valley, where she has won two from two attempts, both over the William Reid Stakes distance of 1200m.
She managed to win on debut at The Valley before winning impressively in a Listed race at her next outing. The filly was then set for the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m), where she finished midfield.
Despite not having much luck in that event, trainer Sam Freedman believes she didn’t quite run out a strong mile.
“Potentially she’s better over the short courses,” Freedman told RSN’s Racing Pulse program.
“Her record says that. She’s won twice obviously at The Valley over the sprint trips.”
Freedman believes that her last-start failure was one that could potentially be overlooked.
“The other day she was just way out of her ground on a bottomless track,” he said.
“When she was spotting them so far, it was always going to be difficult. So, it was in the back of our mind to always freshen and drop her back to this distance.”
The young trainer is optimistic that his filly is going well and is ready to perform well with the blinkers being applied for the first time.
“She can run a big race,” he declared.
“She loves The Valley, she’s done her best racing there, her work in the blinkers has been very sharp.”
A change of tactics could also be on the cards for the Group 1 event on Friday night.
“We’ve ridden her quiet in a lot of her runs, just getting her to switch off, and I think now she’s relaxing very well, she’s ready for the blinkers and I think she’s probably ready to ride a little more positive,” Freedman stated.
“You don’t want to be spotting horses like Marabi five or six lengths on the turn.
“We’ll ride her where she’s comfortable, but hopefully she’s a lot closer to the speed.”
Despite having to contend with star mare Marabi, the father-son training team have hopes of Group 1 success this preparation, with the Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) for the fillies and mares in Adelaide a possible target if she runs well on Friday.
“If she performed as we’re hoping that she does, which we’re hoping for a very big performance, then yeah she could easily head towards a Sangster,” Freedman said.
“We’re pretty content that she’s definitely a sprinter.
“We’ll likely be keeping her to this sort of distance range in the future.”
Sportsbet are currently offering a healthy price of $46 for Zouzarella to win the William Reid Stakes, with Marabi a $1.70 favourite.