where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-10-09 06:36:48  
Hot Pot Zaaki beaten

The Cox Plate is suddenly wide open following the shock defeat of hot favourite Zaaki in Saturday's Group 1 Might And Power Stakes on a firming track at Caulfield.

Zaaki was sent out the $1.28 favourite to make it six wins in a row but in a tactical race, where Homesman took off before the turn to make Zaaki sprint, the import failed to show his usual dash and instead was swamped by swoopers Probabeel and Nonconformist.

On the line, the Kiwi mare Probabeel ($8) snuck home by a nose over Nonconformist ($16), with a length-and-a-quarter to Zaaki in third.

After being a $1.85 Cox Plate favourite before the race, Sportsbet wound out Zaaki's price to $2.50 moments after the defeat.

The Caulfield track had been upgraded from a Good 4 to a Good 3 after the opening race.

Zaaki's rider Craig Williams told stewards after the race that he felt Zaaki had pulled up well from the run and will benefit for the hard run after racing 'fresh'.

He later said: "Disappointing that we couldn't keep his picket fence going. The positive from the race is that he's still got improvement in him.

"He was a little bit fresh and keen in the first half of the race when they put the tempo on. They outsprinted him.

"He's not as comfortable around Caulfield and even when they outsprinted him late, he still stuck on. We didn't win this battle, but the war isn't over."

It was jockey Brett Prebble fourth G1 win of the spring following triumphs on Behemoth (Memsie Stakes) and Incentivise (Makybe Diva and Tunbull Stakes).

"She was all guts," Prebble said. "I was out in the last 100 (metres). She had nothing left but every time I kept lifting, she kept trying her heart out.

"It was all guts and determination.

"It was a good finish. I actually congratulated Jordie (Childs aboard Nonconformist), which deserves a kick in the backside, but I owe him a bottle of champagne. That was bad form."

Grahame Begg was delighted with Nonconformist's run, saying he'd wanted the horse ridden cold in case the pressure was put to Zaaki.

"That's how we read the race that Homesman would put the pressure on early and we'd have last crack. We just fell short by a nose."

Nonconformist now drops to 51.5 kilograms from 59kg for next Saturday's Caulfield Cup, for which he has moved to the second line of betting at $7.50 behind Incentivise ($1.90).

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