Five runners for Ellerton Zahra Racing at Sandown

Nov 11, 2016

Arctic Angel will begin a big day for Ellerton Zahra Racing when she has her second start in Saturday’s Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) on the Sandown Hillside track.

Recent Merson Cooper Stakes history indicates either a first-starter or a runner coming through the Group 3 Ottawa Stakes (1000m) on Melbourne Cup day has won the last 10 editions of the two-year-old feature.

Arctic Angel falls into the latter category after chasing the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Invincible Star in the latest edition of the two-year-old sprint. Zahra said the experience gained would lead to Arctic Angel improving in the Merson Cooper Stakes.

"She'll be improved off the run," Zahra, who trains Arctic Angel in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said.

"The winner just kept running on the better ground and got them off the bit early. It got her out of her comfort zone.

"It was the first time she'd actually dropped the bit and the first time she'd been let off the bridle.

"She probably got tired about 50(m) so it was a good effort."

Arctic Angel has drawn barrier 13, which looks ordinary on paper, but Zahra said the gate could be beneficial on the Sandown 1000m course, which features a dogleg into the straight rather than a full turn.

"Sometimes they are better off having the room to balance and kick off that bend so the outside is not too bad."

Chris Symons will ride Arctic Angel again in the Merson Cooper Stakes while Damian Lane will pilot Rock ‘N’ Gold in the Listed Doveton Stakes.

“Both his runs this time have been really good so we expect him to run another good race,” Zahra said.

Sword Of Light and Want To Rock have to contend with poor gates in the Listed Twilight Glow Stakes (1400m), a race the stable won with Secret Liaison in 2011.

“Both of them are going really well but the barriers are a bit of a tale of woe for them,” Zahra said. “Sword Of Light was good at Flemington and it was good to see Want To Rock back in winning form at Bendigo.”

Durendal will close out the day for Ellerton Zahra Racing in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m).

“He’s been going well enough but hasn’t had a lot of luck,” Zahra said. “His efforts have been good so hopefully he can get a reward at Sandown.