Ellerton Zahra Racing in the thick of it on 'Super Saturday' at Flemington

Mar 08, 2018

Classy filly Booker will tackle the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap to lead a strong Ellerton Zahra Racing team at Saturday’s ‘Super Saturday’ meeting at Flemington.

Booker will try to become the first three-year-old filly to win the Newmarket Handicap since Alinghi defeated Fastnet Rock in the 2005 edition of the race.

Co-trainer Simon Zahra said Booker has a couple of factors in her favour but an inside draw of barrier three was not one of them in a race down the Flemington straight.

However, Zahra said a bit of speed drawn on Booker’s inside could give her a cart to get to the preferred middle section of the course without using too much early energy.

“I don’t think the barrier is much of a help to her,” Zahra, who trains Booker in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said. “They haven’t been winning on the inside down the straight lately.

“I think being back on the inside in the Lighting Stakes was a bit of a disadvantage.

“Lord Of The Sky is drawn inside her so she might be able to get on the back of him if they decide to work across out wider. We can’t go too far back on her, but it just depends how quickly they go.”

Booker passed her first test in top company when beaten a long neck by Russian Revolution in the Group I Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.

Zahra said the presence of the likes of Brave Smash and Redkirk Warrior made the Newmarket Handicap a shade tougher but dropping from 51.5kg to 50kg would help the daughter of Written Tycoon.

Promising apprentice Ben Thompson will have no trouble getting down to 50kg to ride Booker in the $1.25 million event.

“I don’t think it’s a vintage Newmarket and they’re pretty even at the weights,” Zahra said.

“She was great in the Oakleigh Plate, it showed she was up to this type of race, and she drops in weight, so we think she’ll be competitive again with 50kg.”

Classy filly Smart Coupe will tackle 1400m again in the Group II AV Kewney Stakes. Smart Coupe had to work early before boxing on fairly when midfield to Summer Sham at her last start in the Group II Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m).

“The 1400(m) the other day, we weren’t convinced she got it,” Zahra said.

“But she did miss the start and do a lot of work in that race, so we thought we’d give her another go at it and see how she went. We’ve just got to give her every chance of running it out.

“If she doesn’t run it out, there are a heap of options for her over shorter trips, so we’ll keep trying to get some black type with her.”

Prezado will return to the scene of his brilliant Melbourne Cup day win when he joins the speedy Freeze Over in the Listed Incognitus Stakes (1100m) down the Flemington straight.

In-form sprinter Nasdex and the returning Trevinder, who re-joins the stable after competing in Queensland will be out to start the day with a win for Ellerton Zahra Racing in the opening race of the Flemington stable.

We wish all involved the very best of luck and look forward to Ellerton Zahra Racing being ultra-competitive on one of the best day’s racing on the Victorian calendar.