Berger to unleash Zourkhan in Tamworth Cup

Inverell trainer Luke Berger and Zourkhan are ready for today’s Tamworth Cup.

Zourkhan will make his Northern NSW debut when contesting today’s $160,000 Tamworth Cup.

The former Chris Waller runner, which is now trained by Luke Berger, has been a handy performer, racing 36 times for six wins, placing 10 times and earning $354,218.

The eight-year-old commenced his racing career in France, winning at Saint-Cloud, before coming to Australia and winning races at Rosehill, Royal Randwick, Kembla Grange, Warwick Farm and Flemington.

Berger said that Zourkhan had been doing everything right, including finishing a nice third in an Armidale barrier on April 19.

“Mate, he has done everything right since I’ve had him and he will be thereabouts,” Berger said.

“He seems to like it with the cut out of the track and I don’t think we will get that tomorrow but we will see how he goes.”

The Inverell trainer went on to explain that local connections had purchased the Shamardal gelding for the rich Northern Crowns Series in Queensland..

The unique series offers staying feature events at Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and the FNQ Amateurs, each worth $150,000, while there is $350,000 in bonuses.

Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely Zourkhan will compete in the series, leaving Berger to find suitable races in NSW.

“Danny Bourke bought him and Fill The Esky Racing took a share in him,” Berger said.

“They have been very good to me and Danny has given me a few horses and looked after me lately.

“We was meant to be going to the Northern cups carnival but with everything going on, I don’t think he will go up there now.”

Berger said that the Tamworth Cup was always on the cards though, suggesting it would be a good race to kick off Zourkhan’s Northern campaign.

“He was always going to go to the Tamworth Cup but with the virus, he’ll probably go to the Scone Cup next and I’m really not sure where we will go after that.”

The Northern trainer said that Zourkhan was a little gentleman, highlighting his small stature and good stable manners.

“I don’t think he would be even 15 hands, he is petite and built like a 1000m sprinter,” Berger laughed.

“He is a real gentleman around the stables though, he just does everything right.”

The stayer, that has won from 1600m-2800m, will have to sprint well today though, resuming over the 1400m.

“That’s definitely a question mark, Chris (Waller) gave him run over 1400m and he got beat 0.3 (lengths) so he is capable,” Berger said.

“There isn’t a lot of pace in it, three of them will probably press forward and we should get into a decent position.”

Zourkhan is currently a $26 chance in the feature event, while the favourite tag sits with the Tracey Bartley trained McCormark, with the Cody Morgan trained Ligulate the second favourite.

“That one of Cody’s, Ligulate, will be the hardest to beat,” Berger said.

“He was good winning the championship qualifier recently and looks well placed here.”