By Grahame Timbrell
It took 20 starts and a new trainer but when the well-bred Zarabeel finally decided to put her best foot forward she did it with style, winning her maiden over 1900m at Armidale last week by more than 10 lengths.
On Thursday at Muswellbrook she comes back a little in distance to 1750m, steps up to the Hollydene Estate Wines Class One and Maiden and will have a new rider in Greg Ryan.
Ben Looker rode her at Armidale but is riding at Eagle Farm on Wednesday and would have had to face a long drive to get to Muswellbrook in time.
“Greg rarely rides up around Armidale and I was keen to get his opinion of her and he was happy to take the ride,” trainer Stirling Osland said.
“Ben does quite a lot of riding for us so he will be back on her when the opportunity arises.”
Osland doubts that Zarabeel can repeat her Armidale effort.
In fact he is worried she may meet her match in this race.
“Tim McIntosh’s horse (Yatte Yattah) has good Sydney form and looks the one to beat,” he said.
“Hopefully there is some speed in our race because she gets back.
“That’s how she won at Armidale.”
In that race Zarabeel was worse than mid field with the early leader Dream Stepper setting up a huge lead early and a solid pace.
Zarabeel circled the field, took the lead on straightening and raced away with only one back hander from Looker to keep her mind on the job.
The daughter of Savabeel from the O’Reilly mare Exilio was bought for $100,000 at the 2014 Easter yearling sale and is raced by a syndicate headed by Sydney based owner Stan Saric.
“Stan sent a filly to me called Prada Miss that had been beaten in three trials in Sydney and they didn’t think was much good,” Osland said.
“I won with her at her first start at Armidale.
“Nine days later Zarabeel ran third at Eagle Farm and that night Stan rang me and asked if I would take her.
“She was only with us for a bit more than three weeks before she won and the only thing I might have done differently was give her a bit more slow work.
“She pulled up well after the win and I gave her light gallop on Monday to get her ready for this.”
The horse was originally trained by Leon and Troy Corstens and had 12 starts for them for placings at Flemington, Bendigo and Geelong and a ninth in the 2015 Crown Oaks at Flemington.
After failing in a Geelong maiden she was sent to Melissa Leitch at the Gold Coast and after six starts for her and two placings at Eagle Farm was switched to Osland.
SELECTIONS: 1-1.20pm, HORSEPOWER BENCHMARK 58, 2300m: STRIKE ME LUCKY 1, Macmissile 2, Advocacy 3, Ode To Caitlin 4. 2-1.55pm, ARROWFIELD MAIDEN, 1000m: THE BAKER 1, Barricade 2, Fanny Chenal 3, Mac’s Reward 4. 3-2.35pm, COOLMORE HOME OF CHAMPIONS MAIDEN, 1280m: RED KNOT 1, Battle On 2, Hayden Boy 3, Frank’s Reward 4. 4-3.10pm, GODOLPHIN MAIDEN, 1280m: CRYSTAL CHOICE 1, Wilde Irish Dream 2, Refuge Bay 3, Palace Princess 4. 5-3.45pm, HOLLYDENE ESTATE WINES CLASS ONE AND MAIDEN, 1750m: ZARABEEL 1, Leave Ya Numba 2, Stan 3, Guthrum 4. 6-4.20pm, TAB.COM.AU CLASS ONE, 1280m: MISTER MARMALADE 1, Smooth Truth 2, Happy Go Plucky 3, Unsinkable Sam 4. 7-4.55pm, HTBA BENCHMARK 70, 1280m: GENDEBIEN 1, Radical Impact 2, Fancy Nickers 3, Local Hero 4. 8-5.35pm, NORM TURNER ELECTRICAL CLASS THREE, 1000m: DUCK IN DUBAI 1, Fickle Folly 2, Royal Engineer 3, Billy Bent Ear 4. Best Bets: Red Knot, Gendebien.