Zoo Station lands Gayna Williams ‘emotional’ Highway victory

The Gayna Williams-trained Zoo Station is guided to victory in the 1200m Class Three TAB Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday. Photo: Steve Hart Photographics.

Gayna Williams might not have been on course to watch her mare, Zoo Station, win the 1200m Class Three TAB Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, but the victory meant all that much and more to the Bathurst trainer.  

“It was an incredible moment, and it was emotional as well with the relief of it all,” Williams told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“I was just so proud of the mare. I can’t say enough about her. She is just beautiful, honest, genuine and kind and only everything you could say about her is positive.”

The five-year-old – owned by Steve and Kim Dyer – was simply too strong for her rivals in the six-furlong event, with the $7 chance powering to the line to beat Golden Point ($9) and Unpredicted ($21), and Williams explained it was just as special a moment for her owners. 

“Due to covid, that was the first time the owners got to see her race,” Williams said. 

“It was a huge moment for them, and it looks like it was a pretty big day and night for them.”

Williams had the upmost praise for Anthony ‘Choc’ Cavallo too, with the popular jockey having worked closely with the stable in the weeks leading up to Saturday before taking just the one ride on the day when guiding Zoo Station to victory. 

“I was also thrilled for Anthony Cavallo; he went down for one ride, and he did a great job,” Williams said.

“He had sort of only started coming over to ride work a day a week about a month or six weeks ago, and he wanted to ride her, and the owners were kind enough to leave him on and it worked out great.”

As cliché as it may sound, the sky could really be the limit for this Animal Kingdom mare that has now won four races – including two TAB Highway Handicaps – from just nine starts.

“She is doing it all very easily at the moment,” Williams said. 

“The main thing with her is that she has a professional attitude; she is very business-like and that will take her a long way.”

Zoo Station looks destined to contest the Central Districts heat of the Country Championships Series at Mudgee on February 27, and Williams admitted the $500,000 feature race was always in their grand plans 

“The main goal for her is the Country Championships and we will continue to aim for that at this stage and see where it takes us,” Williams said. 

“Plans are always open to be changed, but when you have a horse that might suit that race, which she seems to be, you hope to get in the final and be a real chance.

“It’s a good option for her, because it is still restricted, and it is strictly for country horses only.

“Don’t get me wrong; I am not thinking it is a forgone conclusion and absolutely anything can happen on the day, but we will give her every chance.”

Punters and racing fans will get another glimpse of the talented mare before the Mudgee Country Championships heat, with Williams plotting her mare’s assault to nth degree. 

“She will have another run and it will end up being a month prior to the Championships and we will trial her before the heat in February,” Williams said. 

The Bathurst stable could very well boast a strong hand in the Central Districts qualifier at Mudgee, with Williams preparing three gallopers for the Country Championships. 

“Zoo Station will go, and we will look to run Tags and possibly Silverdeel, but she needs to increase her Benchmark to get in,” Williams said.