Chris Waller has named the Group 1 $4 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) as the next-up target for his very nice filly Zougotcha who was far too good for her rivals second-up dominating the 2023 Phar Lap Stakes results on Coolmore Classic Day.
Waller made the decision to scratch the class young daughter of Zoustar from the meeting’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic over the same distance opting instead to keep her against her own age in the Group 2 $250,000 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).
It proved a winning decision with Zougotcha improving on her lead-up fourth when narrowly beaten in a blanket finish to the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) to get back to winning form ahead of tougher targets this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
“It was almost disappointing to scratch her from the Coolmore but through that experience of having confidence building races with the horses like Winx it’s an important stepping stone,” Waller told Sky Thoroughbred Central post-victory.
“Three-year-old fillies, they’re fragile. They are not just a horse you can send to the races and just expect to perform at that elite level.
“They like a bit of a cuddle and a bit of a pat on the back and she got that today.”
Ace hoop James McDonald produced a well-executed ride on the top-class filly using the heavily-backed favourite’s good gate speed to settle in a lovely position fourth throughout.
From there everything went to plan with a good tempo ensuring Zougotcha ($1.50F) was able to rope them in on the home straight moving up to take the lead inside the final furlong before racing off for a one-length victory.
In the end Zougotcha was too good David Pfieffer‘s last start Autumn Stakes winning Rubick colt Glint Of Silver ($20) who was brave at big odds holding for second after leading nearly all the way and continuing to rally the closing stages to keep the margin respectable.
Rounding out the Phar Lap Stakes trifecta in an eye-catching third was the Brosnan ($13) who was wide the entire trip before finishing strongly to get into the money.
Zougotcha was a marvel for the stable in the spring winning the Group 2 Silver Shadow – Group 2 Tea Rose – Group 1 Flight Stakes treble to put her on top of the list of the season’s best three-year-old fillies.
She further proved that status with her dominant Phar Lap Stakes performance handing Waller his incredible seventh win in nine years.
The Phar Lap Stakes has been a happy hunting ground for Waller’s leading fillies with all of his runners having either previously won or going on to win at least one Group 1 event.
Zougotcha now sits alongside that illustrious group of very good Waller-trained fillies with more to come.
Waller is hoping for another elite level trophy to add to Zougotcha’s Flight Stakes silverware on April 1 at Randwick in the 2023 Doncaster Mile.
“Next step is something bigger which will probably be the Doncaster. That’ll be another mountain to climb,” Waller said.
“She had an awkward draw to overcome first-up (in the Surround Stakes) and had to do a bit of work early, got a bit keen, just little things wrong but only beaten a narrow margin.
“Today will get her back on track. Even today you could see she sweated up a little bit at the start, a little bit keen, but that’ll take it out of her and she’ll be ready to go in three weeks.”
The master horseman has prepared six previous Doncaster Mile winners with Winx (2016) the last.
Winx also won the 2015 Phar Lap Stakes, however no horse has done the double as a three-year-old in the same season.
Brutal in 2019 meanwhile was the last three-year-old Doncaster Mile champion.