From winkers to blinkers, Shoals gear change lifts confidence
JOCKEY Mark Zahra believes an important gear change could be the edge Shoals needs to win the $500,000 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield today.
Shoals lost her unbeaten record when second to Booker in the Thousand Guineas Prelude over 1400m at her fifth ca- reer start last Sunday week, but Zahra took positives out of the closing stages of the race.
The in-form jockey tested the filly in blinkers in a gallop at Flemington on Tuesday morning before giving trainer Anthony Freedman the thumbs-up to apply them for today’s Group 1 race over 1600m. The blinkers will replace her normal winkers.
“She was sharp enough but relaxed enough,” Zahra said.
“It’s always a risk going up in trip and putting blinkers on, but I reckon she just needed something extra if we think we’re a chance of winning, which we’ve done.”
Sydney filly Alizee unleashed a powerful finishing burst to win the Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes at her two most recent starts and is the $2.20 Thousand Guineas favourite. Shoals is at $4 ahead of Booker ($6.50). While Alizee has proven herself at 1600m, Shoals and Booker are yet to do so.
“The mile is going to be the biggest test for Shoals. She’s been impressive over 1200m and then she had her first run at 1400 the other day and I thought she was good through the line,” Zahra said.
“Catchy levelled up with me and I kicked and beat her for second, which I reckon was a really good sign.
“With only eight runners it’s going to make it a lot easier for her I reckon.”