Co-trainer Simon Zahra acknowledges impressive first-up winner Zoutori faces a mammoth test when he races in the Gilgai Stakes at Flemington.
Zoutori won the Group Two Bobbie Lewis Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on September 14 but lines up against tougher opposition in Saturday’s Group Two race over the same distance.
Carrying 53kg first-up, Zoutori raced to a two-length victory but on Saturday rises to 59kg in the set-weights plus penalties race where he is opposed to Group One winners Santa Ana Lane and Sunlight who are using Saturday’s race to prepare for The Everest at Randwick on October 19.
“If he can be thereabouts on Saturday then you know what you’ve got,” Zahra said.
“He’s got the run under his belt whereas Santa Ana Lane is coming into the race fresh but it’s going to be a monster task for him as he’s jumping six kilos.”
Zahra, who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, is unsure what the future looks like for Zoutori.
He is nominated in the inaugural Golden Eagle at Rosehill on November 2 but Zahra is wary about him racing right-handed after two below-par performances in Brisbane during the winter.
“He’d have to be absolutely flying but it’s hard to condemn him on one preparation as it was at the end of his prep too,” Zahra said.
“We’ll play around with him and see where we go as there’s still options here.
“His work’s been good, he looks amazing, so we’ll throw him in the deep end on Saturday and see how we go.”
Last year’s VRC Oaks winner Aristia runs for the second time this campaign in the Group Two Blazer Stakes (1400m).
Zahra believes the mare is going as well as she was 12 months ago.
“Every time she goes around at Flemington she seems to be a completely different horse,” Zahra said..
“She’s got to carry the weight but I think she’ll run a cheeky race on Saturday.”
Aristia is also entered in the Golden Eagle but Zahra said the Group One Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington on the same day was also an option.