By Ray Hickson
Trainer Tony Gollan isn’t going to declare Zoustyle as a TAB Everest hopeful until he sees how the unbeaten sprinter handles what promises to be an interstate baptism of fire at Randwick next month.
The four-year-old had plenty of people wondering what might be in the spring as he put nine lengths on a barrier trial field at Doomben on Tuesday at his first appearance since making it six from six back in May.
Gollan confirmed the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) on September 7 is the race he’ll find out what Zoustyle is made of with the likes of Redzel, Nature Strip, Pierata, Osborne Bulls and Sunlight all headed there.
“I never envisaged this race in Sydney will be as strong as it will be,'' Gollan said.
"It’s just what the Everest has done to the spring sprinting program, it’s made it a stronger race.
“He hasn’t got the right to that sort of claim (Everest contender) yet, he’s only a 95 benchmark that’s the reality.
“And he’s only beaten horses in his own state and his own age. He’s a four-year-old now so the world is different for him, he’s going to meet horses on their home track and not his own.’’
Zoustyle doesn’t have an Everest slot but his record is being respected as a $15 chance with TAB alongside classy mares Enticing Star and In Her Time, both already confirmed.
Also on that line of betting is Coolmore’s July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns whose travel plans will become clearer after contesting the Nunthorpe Stakes (1000m) at York later in August.
Four slots remain open in the $14m TAB Everest (1200m) on October 19.
Two of them are owned by Godolphin and Coolmore, who will fill their slots from within, and one goes to the winner of the Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield a week out from the race so it leaves only James Harron, the inaugural winner, to bargain with.
Gollan said he completely expected Zoustyle to outclass his five rivals in the trial over 840m but it was the manner that impressed him.
“I thought his action was better today, he relaxed through the middle stages of the trial, he sort of wanted to get running up the straight but that’s freshness,’’ he said.
“He’s a bit bigger and stronger horse than he has been previously and I thought that showed in the way he went about his business.
“Last time in he was wanting to go a bit keen, in his one run in the winter he flicked his head and wanted to go keener than Brad (Stewart) wanted.
Is Zoustyle a contender for #TheTABEverest?
The unbeaten @tonygollan 4yo ran 33.31 L600 winning a trial at Doomben on Tuesday & we're set to find out if he's Everest material when he resumes in the G3 Concorde @royalrandwick on September 7.@tabcomau @SkyRacingAU @7horseracing pic.twitter.com/BIQEp9Kc2x
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) August 13, 2019
“I was quite happy with the way he dropped and put his head on his chest. He wasn’t out there to go top speed, I’m sure he didn’t, but he was still very impressive.’’
It’s more than three weeks until the Concorde so Gollan will give the gelding another jump out in two weeks before heading into his moment of truth.
The champion Queensland trainer has played a very patient game with Zoustyle – last summer he pulled up stumps before the Magic Millions despite being in line for a huge bonus while his winter campaign lasted just the one run.
“The horse continues to get better every preparation,’’ he said.
“Physically, he’s not a big heavy horse but I have a lot more horse than I’ve had before. His recovery post-trial was very good and it’s a benefit of that winter prep.
“I take it in good heart that the horse has had a good grounding, we’ve always put the horse first and we’re hopeful that these next racing years of his life can bear a lot of fruit for him.’’