Barbara Joseph, Paul, and Matt Jones added another Country Cup to their bulging collection on Monday, with the impressive Zouatica proving a class above his rivals in the $75,000 Moruya Cup.
With Country Cup king Quayde Krogh in the saddle, the four-year-old was ridden forward and travelled wide from gate 12 before eventually taking the lead.
Despite getting through a lot of the grunt work in the heavy eight conditions, the Zoustar gelding, which commenced a well-supported $2.10 favourite, found the good part of the track and put pay to his rivals.
Running away for a three-length victory at the finish, the Canberra galloper defeated the John O’Shea-trained Kokoro (Andrew Adkins, $10) while Zouatica’s stablemate One Aye (Jake Barrett, $31) ran a big race to finish third.
Matt Jones was thrilled with the victory and Krogh’s winning ride.
“A lot has to go right to win these races and the rain came, and we know he loves the wet, and barrier 13 turned into barrier one, and the ride was fantastic,” Matt Jones said.
“We talked about staying wide all the way around the back there, cutting the corner and shooting to the outside fence and letting them chase you when they are coming through the slop on the corner, and it worked an absolute treat.”
Zouatica now leads the stable’s 2024 Big Dance charges, with Joseph-Jones racing hoping to qualify the likes of Super Helpful, Manderboss, and Belleistic Kids for the $3 million Country Cup final.
“It’s another one in the Big Dance and something for our family to aim for next year,” Matt said.
“He’s not furnished yet either when you have a look at him.
“He’s still a big boy and hasn’t fully grown into himself, and come November on Big Dance day, look out.”
In the time being, the five-time winner from just nine career starts will be set for the 2024 Country Championships, namely the South East qualifier at Moruya on March 3.
“The plan after that last run was to come here and freshen him up, and we did all that, and we couldn’t be happier with how he’s reacted off that,” Paul Jones said.
“I’m really happy for the team and the owners; they’ve put faith in us to chart this course that we are on with this horse, and we think we’ll freshen him up again and challenge the Country Championships from here.”
On a big day at Moruya, Jamie Stewart scored a local win in the $50,000 Moruya Town Plate, with Iconic Dame getting the job done in a thrilling finish.