(By John Jenkins)
The all conquering training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman brought up their 100th win for the season in style today when they produced Zacada to win the Group 3 $75,000 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup.
The success credited both them and winning jockey Jonathan Riddell with back-to-back victories in the 2200m feature after they also combined to win last year’s race with Highlad.
Baker and Forsman led the national trainers’ premiership on 98 wins starting today’s race, five ahead of Jamie Richards. They went to 99 when Nordic, also ridden by Riddell, took out the first race on the card at Rotorua and then brought up the magical 100 with Zacada in the Cup. It was also their 23rd black type victory this season.
Zacada had to lump topweight of 60kg in today’s race but made light work of it over the final stages, producing a strong finish up against the inside rail to get up for a head decision over Gobstopper, with another Baker/Forsman runner in Artiste three-quarters of a length back in third.
Zacada was having his first start since finishing 14th out of 20 in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on April 13 but the Zabeel six-year-old has shown good stating ability in the past, with a win in last year’s Avondale Cup (2200m) and a second in a Sydney Cup (3200m) to his credit.
“Whatever went on in Australia, I don’t know whether the Cup company was just too stiff, or he didn’t cop some of those holding tracks he ran into,” Forsman said.
“He’s got through it today and looked the winner a long way out.
“He was the class horse of the field on his day and I don’t think the weight was going to be an issue. It was just where his head was at and if he was on his game, then he was going to be hard to beat.
“His two gallops this week have been first-class, and we were confident in that just knowing that he had to bring his A-game to the races.”
Zacada’s win was mainly attributed to a great ride from Riddell, who had the horse trucking along in midfield before moving into a challenging position approaching the home turn. He then saved ground by angling the horse to the inside and never missed a beat with a vigorous ride to the line.
Bred and raced by dairy farmers Andrew Bryant and Dave Armstrong, along with Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan, Zacada has now won five of his 43 career starts for just over $714,000 in stakes earnings.