Zousain’s bid for Coolmore family trifecta
STAR colt Zousain is out to emulate his sire and grandsire by winning the $1 million stallion-making Coolmore Stud Stakes on Saturday, with trainer Chris Waller buoyed by his chances after a solid gallop with stablemate Lean Mean Machine.
And his great grandsire also won the same race - when it was the Group 2 Ascot Vale Stakes, before the race underwent a rebranding and an upgrade in 2006.
Zousain, this year's Golden Rose runner-up, is by Zoustar, who won the Coolmore in 2013, which was the first of Waller's three successive winners of the race.
Zoustar's father, Northern Meteor, won the same race in 2008.
Northern Meteor's sire was breed-shaping stallion Encosta De Lago, who won the Ascot Vale Stakes in 1996.
Waller suggested at the Flemington breakfast that Zousain was "a real star" who was a spitting image of his father, who now stands at a service fee of $60,500 after becoming one of the leading young sires in the country.
Zoustar also sired two other leading contenders in this year's race - colt Lean Mean Machine and filly Sunlight, who could also emulate their forebears.
"It looks like a pretty good field and he's a chance in an open race with a lot of formlines coming together," Waller said of Zousain, the $3.80 TAB elect. "There are horses coming from Sydney and there is a horse from the Hawkes' yard that looks well.
"We've got Zousain and Lean Mean Machine, so it looks like being a very interesting race."
The master trainer conceded the Coolmore Stud Stakes - with huge implications for colts who could go on to be sought-after future stallions - had bypassed the Victoria Derby in terms of being the most long-term lucrative race to win on the first day of the Flemington carnival.
"In terms of a stallion perspective, the winner of the Coolmore … is worth, I guess, $25 million-plus now, with the way the breeding industry is going towards speed, where unfortunately a Derby winner isn't the same value," he said.
"Maybe that can be rebuilt in time."
Zousain was only beaten narrowly by The Autumn Sun in the Golden Rose in late September, with the form franked by that horse's dominant performance to win the Caulfield Guineas a fortnight ago.
Lean Mean Machine, also by Zoustar, ran fifth in that race.
Zousain hasn't raced since then, but was good in a jumpout behind Written By - who will challenge him for favouritism on Saturday - at Flemington last Friday.
He also looked impressive with a good gallop down the straight on Tuesday with Lean Mean Machine.
The Hawkes colt Waller was referring to was Diplomatico, a $1.7 million yearling by Snitzel, who has won two of his three starts.
James Cummings is certain his Coolmore hope, the well-bred colt Encryption, will relish the return to Flemington and run "very well" in the Coolmore, following his strong second to Written By in the Blue Sapphire Stakes.
"He is not one of the top three fancies in the market, but he has a win up the straight in the Danehill, and horses that have won the Danehill always run up the straight well," Cummings said. "He has had the perfect lead-up … to see him produce a personal best fifth up from a spell in the best shape of his life."
KEEPING UP A FAMILY TRADITION
1996: Encosta De Lago wins the Ascot Vale Stakes (which would later become the Coolmore Stud Stakes).
2008: Northern Meteor (by Encosta De Lago) wins the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
2013: Zoustar (by Northern Meteor) wins the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
2018: Could Zousain (by Zoustar), Lean Mean Machine (by Zoustar) or Sunlight (by Zoustar) keep up the family tradition?
CUP COULD BE TOO SOON FOR YOUNGSTAR
CHRIS Waller is hoping locally-bred mare Youngstar can fly the Melbourne Cup flag for Australia, but has a few reservations about whether the four-year-old is seasoned enough to beat the might of the internationals this year.
But he is desperate for his imported galloper Brimham Rocks to gain a last-minute ticket into the race by winning the Lexus Stakes on Saturday.
Youngstar and another of Waller's Cup hopefuls Finche worked together at Flemington on Tuesday morning, though Waller was a little concerned that the former was a little too keen in her work.
"She was a little bit keen for my liking," Waller said.
"That simply shows she is going well, and is very bright and energetic.
"I just need to marry that up in terms of getting her nice and relaxed, but not too fresh."
That will come in a gallop on Friday or Saturday, with Waller keen to get the balance right ahead of next Tuesday for the lightly-raced Queensland Oaks winner, who was an impressive seventh, beaten just over four lengths in the Caulfield Cup.
The Melbourne Cup will only be her 13th start, which forms part of Waller's concern, but he still has a lot of belief in the horse.
"She is still maturing and developing," he said.
"I think she will be better in 12 months' time - that's my only reservation about her."
Youngstar will carry 51.5kg in the Melbourne Cup, and will be partnered by star hoop Craig Williams, who rode her for the first time on Tuesday.
"She wanted to get on with her work and get it over and done with," Williams said of the gallop.
"She pulled up fine and if she goes that way, she is going to be a big player, with one of the strongest chances from an Australian-bred horse."
Williams and Waller are both chasing their first Melbourne Cup victories, with the $17 chance likely to give them a good sight in the race.
Waller also has imported galloper Finche and veteran Who Shot Thebarman guaranteed starts, with the 10-year-old likely to be a final acceptor for what could be his racing swan song - in his fourth Cup, after being scratched last year.
Waller rates Brimham Rocks - who needs to win the Lexus to make the Cup field - a serious chance if he is able to gain a start.