Zoutori (Image: Racing Photos)
Simon Zahra admits he would not have been opposed to the likes of Nature Strip and Bivouac running in Saturday's Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap, because as a result of their absence, his galloper Zoutori has been allocated topweight of 57 kilograms in the time-honored sprint classic.
Zoutori ran second in last year's Oakleigh Plate before going on to finish fourth in the Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap, but despite believing his galloper is going better this preparation, Zahra admits his sprinter has the task ahead of him.
"It was a bit disappointing the others didn't accept so we could keep the 55 kilograms, but it is what it is," Zahra of the Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap field.
"He is a Group 2 winner and he has topweight in a Newmarket, there's no Group 1 winners in it, so it just goes to show the horses under him are all up and coming and he is going to have to be at his best.
"With that weight and looking what's behind him, he is definitely going to have to be going a bit better to get the job done."
On Saturday, Luke Currie jumps aboard the three-time G2 winner, who finished seventh in the Oakleigh Plate this year, where he also carried a topweight of 58kg.
"His two jumpouts have been really sharp for him but it takes a good horse to win the Oakleigh Plate with that sort of weight," said Zahra, who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton.
"He has come through quite well, he probably looked the winner and the weight just got him a bit late with those horses at the lower end of the scale beating him.
"He has made good improvement and worked good here Tuesday.
"There's a couple in there that show good speed so we will probably end up following them and working our path out to the middle and getting to the outside."
Zahra concedes race favourite September Run is the one to beat in the 18-horse contest.
"If September Run gets an uninterrupted run, she is going to be very hard to beat, it's probably as simple as that," Zahra said.
"Looking at her ratings the other day and the way she ran in the race and looking at her in the yard, she is going to make good improvement but hopefully we're a bit closer in the run and get a nice uninterrupted run, that is probably the key to Zoutori."
The stable said a trip north could be on Zoutori's radar for the Queensland Winter Carnival.
"The option for him to go to Queensland is there and I thought he'd be a nice Stradbroke horse," Zahra admitted.
"A horse like him at 1350 metres would be perfect, he has won up to a mile and is quite versatile and as he gets older we will look to stretch him out."