Harlem on song for tilt at Cup history

Underrated stayer Harlem is poised to reward Lindsay Park’s faith with an unprecedented third Group 1 Australian Cup triumph, according to co-trainer Ben Hayes.

Veteran of 38 starts, French import Harlem boasts five victories with four at black-type level, including two Australian Cups and a Group 3 Naturalism in his adopted country.

Hayes says history proves the eight-year-old is an autumn horse, hence the stable’s confidence heading into Saturday’s $1.5 million weight-for-age 2000m contest.

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Michael Walker rode Harlem to victory in the 2018 Australian Cup. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He’s a horse that at this time of year he comes good,” Hayes said. “We were absolutely thrilled with his last run (a close fifth in the Peter Young Stakes) and was a bit unlucky.

“I feel he would have been a lot closer if the runs had opened.

“It was a perfect Australian Cup run, really strong through the line. If he draws a good gate, he’ll be a good chance.”

Harlem is a TAB $11 chance behind joint $5 favourites Kings Will Dream and Regal Power before Wednesday’s final acceptances.

Lindsay Park will also start Fifty Stars (John Allen), Constantinople (Glen Boss) and Cape Of Good Hope (Regan Bayliss).

Jamie Kah will reunite with Harlem on Saturday, having guided the gelding to a second Cup boilover at $31 last year.

Michael Walker was aboard Harlem when he triumphed as a $61 hope in 2018.

Jamie Kah will reunite with Harlem in the Australian Cup. Kah rode Harlem to victory in last year’s race. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

Harlem underwent minor surgery to remove a small growth in his throat after finishing 12th of 16 in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington in November.

The Australian Cup has been won twice by only a handful of gallopers in more than 150 years.

Multiple victors include Harlem, Northerly (2001, ‘3), Vo Rogue (1989, ‘90), Ming Dynasty (1978, ’80), Craftsman (1965-66), Welkin Prince (1962-63) and Woodman (1865-66).



Simon Zahra has handled enough sprinters to instinctively identify the Flemington “naturals” from those unsuited to Australian racing’s most celebrated straight course.

Zoutori falls into the former category, having caught Zahra and co-trainer Mathew Ellerton’s eye with a charging Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) victory last spring

From the moment the gelding hit the line on September 14, Zahra had one race in mind – Saturday’s $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap.

“The Newmarket has been our goal with him ever since he first went up the straight,” Zahra said. “The race is what we’ve had in mind all along.

Zoutori is in great shape for the Newmarket Handicap. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

‘He’s the right kind of horse for it.

“He travels well in the run, he’s got a great turn of foot and he loves racing up the straight.

“The track conditions won’t bother him if there’s been rain. Flemington handles the rain well anyway, but he can cope with the sting out of the ground.

“He’s worked super this week and we think he’s definitely improved off his first-up run.

“To be honest, we can’t have him any better.”

Ellerton and Zahra have handled a string of great sprinters over the years, including Oakleigh Plate winner Booker, while Ellerton trained two Oakleigh Plate winners – River Dove and Miss Kournikova.

Zahra said Zoutori was “probably as good a sprinter as we’ve ever had.”

“He’s right up there with horses like Desert Sky and Black Bean, who’ve been through the place,” he said.

Sky Racing news update 3rd March 2020

Sky Racing news update 3rd March 2020

Zoutori is a TAB $11 chance behind Loving Gaby ($4.50), Exceedance ($5) and Bivouac ($6) ahead of acceptances.

*Alabama Express, who finished last in the Australian Guineas, has been ruled out of the Newmarket after succumbing to a virus.

The colt was floated to Werribee for treatment after displaying a high temperature.

*Tatlented three-year-old Soul Patch has been retired after suffering a tendon injury while finishing third in last Saturday’s Australian Guineas.

*Catalyst was sent to the Ballarat veterinary clinic for diagnosis of his back after the gun Kiwi’s Australian Guineas failure. Trainer Clayton Chipperfield says the plan is to press onto the $5m All-Star Mile with the three-year-old.

Originally published asHarlem on song for tilt at Cup history

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