Zabeel mare set for NZ St Leger

Asavant (NZ) will benefit from a steep drop in class when she takes her place in the LR New Zealand St Leger at Trentham on Saturday.

The four-year-old daughter of Zabeel was a last-start eighth in the star-studded G1 New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie won by Ocean Park.  “I probably made the wrong decision running her last weekend,” South Island trainer Karen Parsons said.  “In hindsight, I should have run her in the Nathans Memorial the week prior – 2000 metres is not her best distance.

“She was always being set for the St Leger, but when she finished third in the Group 1 at Te Rapa I thought she deserved another go at that level.  Then the likes of Ocean Park and Veyron were entered.”

Asavant (4m Zabeel – Pins ‘n’ Needles by Pins) is rated 96 for the St Leger, 16 points ahead of the next highest in Deliciano (Darci Brahma), yet under the set weight conditions she will carry only 57.5kg which is 2kg less than her male opponents.

“She is getting close to the end of the road for this campaign, and when you’ve raced over 2500 metres it’s hard to step back in distance again,” said Parsons.

Zabeel’s last NZ St Leger winner was also a mare – Ritzy Lady in 2007.

Parsons has been based at Pauline Masters’ Ohau property, south of Levin, since November with a team of around four horses at a time.  It has been a successful trip with six wins, including Final Touch’s three at Group 1 level.

Final Touch will not be seen again this season with foot problems ruling her out of the G1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Stakes at Te Aroha early next month.