Zougotcha scores determined victory in Coolmore Classic

An injury to stable favourite Fangirl made for a tough week in the Chris Waller stable, but Zougotcha provided the perfect balm with a determined victory in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic.

Zougotcha ($3.30 fav) defied a recent hoodoo for favourites and topweight of 57kg to deny all challengers in Saturday’s $1 million race, holding out Semana ($12) by a short neck with Kimochi ($11) another half-head away third in a thrilling finish.

Coming a day after Waller was forced to rule Fangirl out of the Sydney autumn carnival due to a leg injury, Zougotcha delivered at the perfect time.

“We’ve had a tough week,” Waller said.

“It’s good to have her back. She showed last start that the writing was on the wall and that a horse we expected to be there in the spring was back.

“She has backed that up today with a tough win under handicap conditions giving weight away to every other horse in the race.

“It took us a long time to win the race and now we’ve managed to win two in a row.”

Triumphant in the Flight Stakes (1600m) at three, Zougotcha was put on an Everest path in the spring but failed to fire.

Waller has admitted he erred in trying to mould her into a sprinter, but he has done everything right in his endeavours to make amends this autumn, the mare now unbeaten in two campaign runs.

“I tried to make her sprint and got it wrong,” Waller said.

“She has won a Flight Stakes, she’s now won a Coolmore and I’m sure there’s more to come.”

The Doncaster Mile (1600m) is among the options for Zougotcha depending on what penalty the handicappers inflict.

She is currently weighted on 51.5kg but if she is asked to carry too much more, Waller is more likely to take the mare to the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) a week later on April 13.

Waller also provided an update on Fangirl and said the mare was on the mend after cutting her leg in a stable accident.

“Fortunately she’s fine. We’ve had an update this morning and she is walking around really sound,” he said.

“She’s got a big cut on her leg and she just has to go through the healing process but she is in good care.”

James Mcdonald brought up his 90th Group 1 win on Zougotcha and said her will to win got her over the line.

“At the furlong, I didn’t think I could win,” McDonald said.

“I felt I was near empty and credit to her, she pinned her ears back and had a great crack. She’s just a top-class mare that’s trained to the minute.”

Three-year-old Kimochi ran a mighty race after tracking wide throughout and trainer Gary Portelli said she was likely to drop back to her own age in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in two weeks.

It was Waller’s second Coolmore Classic (1500m) following Espiona’s victory last year and gave the champion trainer a Group race treble on Saturday’s program with Lindermann capturing the Sky High Stakes (2000m) and Democracy Manifest the Ajax Stakes (1500m).

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