From winkers to blink­ers, Shoals gear change lifts con­fi­dence

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT -

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.”

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