$600 Weanling Wins Stakes

Media Release - Saturday April 21

If ever a trainer needed a drink it was Sally McKay after her courageous filly Courte Zarindi upstaged a northern invasion in the Listed $50,000 NZ Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) at Riccarton.

Courte Zarindi with Sally McKay - Race ImagesNot only had the Invercargill horsewoman been through a nerve-wracking week getting the bargain-basement-priced filly to the final leg of the NZ Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year event, but she then had to withstand the pressure of an inquiry before being able to celebrate victory in the 2000-metre feature.

"I don't want to go through that again," McKay said. "She's sensational to do what she did. It was unreal that she made the race let alone won it. And she had to do it the hard way. It wasn't easy."

Courte Zarindi led in the series after winning the Listed NZB Air Freight Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui early last month and was then unlucky when third behind Respin in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1600m), but then she suffered a major hiccup in her Warstep Stakes' preparation.

"She got a massive boil, the size of an orange, on her wither and she ended up missing about eight days' work," McKay said. "Honestly I didn't think I'd get her to the race.

"I got Tommy Beckett over to massage and work on her last Wednesday and I knew on Friday she was coming right, but I was worried about the work she had missed."

McKay informed the stipendiary stewards on race morning of her ordeal with Courte Zarindi, not wanting to leave punters in the dark, and had her fingers crossed all would be right on the day.

With regular rider Tina Comignaghi in the saddle, Courte Zarindi settled midfield and was trapped wide for most of the journey, then moved up four-wide in a line of five horses to challenge on the home turn.

After keeping the favourite, Cambridge visitor Caricature, in a pocket, early in the run home, she worked to the front, but encountered constant pestering on her outside by the Matamata filly Za Za Gabor, who threatened to win at long odds.

The pair came close inside the final 200 metres with Courte Zarindi moving outwards onto Za Za Gabor a couple of times. With just a nose separating them at the finish a protest was lodged by the connections of the runner-up.

A build-up of emotions rushed through McKay before she was able to finally celebrate the win and her second NZ Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year award win, following on from Showemup last year.

"There was brushing, but in the end Terry Moseley (on Za Za Gabor) never gave up riding his filly and that was the decider," McKay said.

"It goes to show how tough my filly is to come back and win like she did. She's sensational. She's so tough. She never gives in.

"She's won two legs of the series and she could easily have won the last three."

Courte Zarindi gave a glimpse of the courage displayed by one of her direct relatives, her fourth dam, Horlicks, the Japan Cup and multiple Group One winner and dam of Melbourne Cup winner Brew.

McKay admits she "stole" Courte Zarindi when securing the Any Suggestions filly for a mere $600 as a weanling.

Raced by stable client Bill McNamara and his grandson, Sam Fryer, Courte Zarindi has now won four races and been six times placed from 13 starts and is edging towards $100,000 in prizemoney. - NZ Racing Desk

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