Verdi looks a Cup prospect for supersire Zabeel

20 Dec 2016

Up-and coming Zabeel stayer Verdi overcame a horror trip in transit to secure a victory at Te Rapa on Saturday that has his connections thinking of a possible Group One challenge later in the season.

The rugged four-year-old was posted three-wide throughout the Rating 75 2100m contest. While most pundits thought that spelt the end of his chances, nobody told Verdi, who kept running on resolutely before driving strongly in the closing stages to snatch the victory in a blanket finish.

Co-trainer Andrew Forsman was full of praise for the effort as he hinted at a possible Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) mission in the future.

"He covered a lot of ground, obviously, and was niggled at a fair way out," Forsman said.

"As a son of Zabeel, to keep boxing on like that is very encouraging. Hopefully two miles in March might be right up his alley. The further he got into the race today the better he went so that's a very good sign."

Rider Michael Coleman was equally impressed when questioned after the race.

"He's a real stayer and he had to be today with the three wide trip," he said.

"He was struggling a bit when they turned up the wick but he kept up a strong gallop and hit the line well."

The win was an emotional one for the Smithies family of Monovale Farm, who bred and race the gelding, with patriarch Paul Smithies having passed away suddenly through a heart attack back in July.

Verdi is from their redoubtable mare Miss Opera, the dam of multiple Group One winner Sir Slick and Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby winner Puccini. ? NZ Racing Desk