By Ray Hickson
Trainer Kris Lees admits he still has the L plates on when it comes to emerging sprinter Zaniah but is confident she can develop into a stakes class galloper later in the season.
The ex-Kiwi four-year-old is unbeaten in two country starts for Lees so the Vale Mr Les Young Handicap (1100m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday is a step up but she's been nothing short of impressive.
Lees said he’s keen to keep the lid on Zaniah for now - though given she’s a warm $2.10 favourite with TAB there’ll be a level of expectation about her return.
“I’m still learning about her, she’s only had two runs for the stable, she has a bit of quality about her,’’ Lees said.
“She’s an impressive looking mare and has the right attitude and good ability. No need to jump too high just yet, hopefully in time she’ll get to the right level.
“I’d like to get her through to Saturday grade and next preparation through to stakes company.’’
Zaniah made her debut for Lees with a dominant maiden win over 1000m at Taree on June 7 then a bit over two weeks later repeated the dose in a 900m Class 1 at Scone both with Aaron Bullock in the saddle.
In the latter win Zaniah clocked a slick 32.92 for her last 600m (Punter's Intelligence), more than two lengths faster than anything else in that race.
Zaniah wins a trial at Newcastle on November 11
Bullock has been on board in both her trials this preparation and, while Hugh Bowman takes over at Warwick Farm, said she’s come back at least as well as she was earlier in the year.
Lees said he’s been wary Zaniah is coming back from nasal sinus surgery and epiglottic entrapment surgery and is resuming at a trip she has yet to be proven at.
“She just had a bit of a throat issue but she came with it so we just had it rectified and she seems fine,’’ he said.
“She’s going to 1100m so we wanted to have her ready, I considered running last Saturday but I thought it was a bit of an ask and she should stay in her grade.’’
It’ll be an interesting test for Zaniah as she meets another emerging filly in the unbeaten Super Longlea who is coming off two provincial wins.
Lees said he’s keen to keep Zaniah in her comfort zone for now and make use of her electric speed so is unlikely to test her distance limits in the short term.
“I don’t know how far she will get, she’s very fast so I don’t know if she will be stretched too far,’’ he said.
“She’s a very nice mare and she will be competitive wherever she goes.
“She’ll only have a short prep and a bit of a freshen up for the autumn if her form warrants it.’’