Zaaki shows Champion qualities at Flemington

5 November 2022 Written by Racing & Sports

Zaaki has taken out the Champions Stakes at Flemington to go with his Mackinnon Stakes victory last year.

Trainer Annabel Neasham did not want to die wondering as she set about winning the Champions Stakes at Flemington.
The Group 1 race, previously known as the Mackinnon Stakes, was renamed as part of Champions Day to conclude the Melbourne Cup Carnival. 

Saturday's contest did not disappoint as Zaaki went back-to-back in the 2000m weight-for-age contest. 

And to complete a perfect result for Neasham, Mo'unga ($10) was promoted to second after a protest was lodged against second across the line Hezashocka ($81) for alleged interference in the straight. 

Ridden by Jamie Kah, Zaaki ($8) led throughout to score a long neck win and continue Neasham's rise to stardom. 

"That's the way to ride him," Neasham said. 

"I thought we're not going to die wondering, roll along and just repeat last year. 

"She (Kah) gave him an absolute peach. 

"All of his wins, he's gone quick and that's his greatest asset, his big cruising speed. I said put your foot down. She did exactly that and he's just so tough. 

"It was so exciting and Mo'unga was terrific as well. That was a proper horse race. 

"To have started my career with a horse like this (and) as an eight-year-old he has beaten a horse like Anamoe in emphatic style." 

Neasham said last year's win in the Mackinnon Stakes was relief after Zaaki was ruled out of the Cox Plate with an elevated temperature. 

She said she had wondered whether she was doing the right thing running him in last year's race, but this year Neasham had been able to enjoy the build-up. 

Kah described Zaaki as a superstar after being able to turn around his recent defeats against practically the same opposition he had been competing against every second week. 

She said having her parents on course made the win all the more special after missing last year's Melbourne Cup Carnival as one of the five Airbnb jockeys suspended earlier in the season. 

"Not to be riding during the carnival last year to winning a Group 1 on one of the biggest days of racing is just an unbelievable feeling," Kah said. 

"It's been a tough week really. I've had some nice rides, but nothing's really hit the mark. 

"I had a lovely horse in the Oaks (Pavitra) that just missed out and I was just hoping to get a little bit of luck this week. 

"I was expecting him to run well but how can you be confident against Anamoe and I'm Thunderstruck."