Change Of Track The Key For Zarantz In Bunbury Cup

Lindsey Smith is banking on a change of venue to snap Zarantz back to winning form ahead of the Listed $120,000 XXXX-Gold Bunbury Cup (2200m) on Thursday.

The Choisir gelding has raced with success at Northam, Pinjarra and Belmont, collecting five wins from 24 starts, but Ascot has proven to be his nemesis.

Zarantz has had six attempts at Perth’s home of racing, including two starts back this preparation, but he has yet to command victory or a top three finish.

“All I have to go on is the track and he has never looked like running a hole at Ascot,” Smith said on TABradio.

“He just doesn’t go there, but if you take him to other tracks he is a consistent horse.

“I know it’s a weak excuse but it does happen.”

Two years ago Zarantz won four consecutive races between 1600m and 2200m and last winter at Belmont he collected one win and six placings from seven starts over similar trips.

Despite his competence over a middle distance journey the five-year-old has been virtually ignored by punters and is currently one of the outsiders of the 13-horse field at $41.

Smith, who is chasing his second Bunbury Cup triumph after combining with Belarus and jockey, Alana Williams in 2007, said Zarantz deserved to be considered among the chances.

“I thought he was going to go on and be a Perth Cup horse after he won a race at Northam, because he let down and just exploded,” Smith said.

“I haven’t seen that again, but I can fault his work and I’m just hoping it’s the track.

“I think he is worth including in your novelties.”

Smith also has solid each way claims with, Cougar Express, rated a $10 chance with the TAB.

The son of Danehill Express led the field before fading to fourth behind Uncle George at Ascot on Saturday.

It followed four consecutive placings after he defeated Galaxy Prince by a head (2400m) at Ascot in January.

Smith said he would add the blinkers to Cougar Express in a bid to find the key winning edge.

“He has won with them before (blinkers) and I have to find an extra length or two,” Smith said.

“I’m hoping it can rattle his cage and give him a bit more focus.”

Joseph Azzopardi rides Cougar Express from barrier seven. Kyra Yuill and Zarantz will combine from gate 12 with the scratchings of pre-race favourite, Angola and Saxapak.