Chris Hardy was 41 years between drinks when winning Sunday’s Queanbeyan Cup with Zakeriz.
The Wagga trainer last won the event way back in 1980 when Blue Ricci greeted the judge first, and Hardy joked that he hadn’t been back until Sunday’s win in the $45,000 event.
“I actually won the Queanbeyan Cup 41 year ago with Blue Ricci and this is virtually the first time we have been back to Queanbeyan since,” Hardy laughed.
Ridden by Nyssa Burrells, Zakeriz was game all throughout the 2000m race, working hard to find the front from early leader, Tobermory, before holding off every other challenger when winning by 1.76 lengths from the Norm Gardner-trained Upper House (Mathew Cahill) and the fast-finishing Nieces and Nephews (Jordan Mallyon) for Barbara Joseph and Paul and Matt Jones.
“He was tough. They took him on most of the way and it was a good win, and a game win,” Hardy said.
The seven-year-old helped Hardy to his first Cootamundra Cup victory late last month, with Burrells leading all the way on the Zariz geding over the 1600m journey.
The pair then led them up in the $130,000 Country Classic at Rosehill over 2000m on November 6, before fading to finish 8th of 18 and beaten 5.53 lengths.
Hardy said he wasn’t sure if Zakeriz would even run the 10 furlongs prior to his Queanbeyan Cup win, but he certainly knows now.
“It was a big jump to go to Sydney, but because he copped such a rise in the benchmark, so I didn’t have a choice,” Hardy said.
“I went to Sydney and wasn’t certain he would run the 2000m and I came here, and I just wanted to know if he could run 2000m and he proved that today.”
Hardy said it was Zakeriz’s breeding – being by Zariz and out of Keys To Thekingdom –that gave him confidence his gelding would run the trip.
“You always hope they will get over ground and we had his dam and we never saw the best of her, but she won up to 1800m,” Hardy said.
“She had staying blood in her pedigree, and we were hopeful he would run the mile, and we weren’t too sure about the 2000m, and we thought the only way to find out was to run him around.”
Zakeriz will be set for some races on his home track while Hardy plots a new path for his front-running stayer.
“We will have a look and see what there is,” Hardy said.
“I will probably give him a fortnight off and go to Wagga. There are a couple of meetings at Wagga, and it means we don’t have to travel.
“After that we will see what other races are around.”
It was another big day for Queanbeyan, with the eight-race Showcase program garnering the attention of the nation.
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