Probabeel Stuns Zaaki – Cox Plate Beckons
10 Oct 2021
NZ Herald’s Michael Guerin reports:
New Zealand’s superstar mare Probabeel has created chaos in the market for the A$5 million Cox Plate with a giant-killer win over Zaaki in the Might And Power Stakes at Caulfield in Melbourne yesterday.
She capped a dream day for trainer Jamie Richards, Australian rider Brett Prebble and owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who had earlier won the A$175,000 Weekend Hustler Stakes with Kahma Lass to add to the pair’s huge broodmare value.
But the Probabeel victory stunned punters Australasia-wide, even though she was second favourite, because while she was clawing her way to a nose win over Nonconformist, the enormously-hyped Zaaki was a struggling third.
The latter had been so dominant over the winter and early spring, the Australian TAB had already paid out on Zaaki to win the Cox Plate, but that cloak of invincibility was shredded by the Kiwi mare yesterday.
Probabeel was ridden with cover on the inside by Prebble and hit her usual flat spot at the 600m when the tempo went into the race, but regathered herself and sprinted sharply up the rail, a part of the race track she has rarely seen in her career before.
Prebble said after the race Probabeel was out on her hooves with 100m to go, but she got home to take her earnings to more than $4m with her fourth Group 1.
Most importantly, it was over 2000m, with the 2040m Cox Plate at The Valley in a fortnight, a race her connections had been considering missing.
Until yesterday, the combination of Zaaki’s dominance and Probabeel’s slight 2000m query had Richards thinking of sidestepping the Cox Plate and heading to the A$1 million Empire Rose for mares at Flemington on October 30.
“I think we have to make the Cox Plate the aim now,” Richards told the Herald on Sunday last night.
“We will discuss it in the next few days but she was so good and there have to be some doubts over other Cox Plate favourites like Zaaki and Verry Elleegant.
“So all going well, we will give her a shot at the Cox Plate again and the one obvious thing that would make us change our mind would be a lot of rain in Melbourne the week before the race.”
Richards said if Probabeel goes to the Cox Plate, in which she ran seventh on a soft track last season, she will miss the Empire Rose.
Richards admits to having less clarity around where Kahma Lass will head next, as he sees her as most potent at 1400m this campaign, so the 1600m of the Empire Rose, should she become the stable rep for that, is possibly at the end of her range.
But she was outstanding coming from off the speed yesterday and has options in Melbourne and Sydney.