Zafina Too Strong in Country Cup

Zafina Too Strong in Country Cup

Canberra horseman Matthew Dale made the most of Zafina’s failed attempt at a breeding career when the mare scored a lucrative victory in Saturday’s Magic Millions Country Cup (1200m) on the Gold Coast.

The daughter of Stratum returned to his stable in this season after failing to get in foal to star sire Lonhro but quickly turned disappointment into excitement for connections who have watched the mare win four of her last seven starts, including Saturday’s $250,000 feature.

After settling midfield, jockey Jason Collett improved the mare’s position from the 500m and by the time the horses entered the home straight, Zafina was in clear running and ready to strike down the middle of the track.

Zafina ($10) powered home to score by a neck over Robert Heathcote’s fast-finishing Suggan Buggan ($7), with Victorian raider He’s A Moral ($10) running into third despite encountering traffic for much of the final 400m.

Dale praised the four-year-old’s fortitude to win deep into a racing campaign that has included runs in Canberra, Sydney and now the Gold Coast.

“She actually went to stud last year and didn’t go in foal so she returned back off a bit of a fresh-up,” Dale said.

“She’s had a long preparation, she’s been in for a lot of runs and she’s been trained out of Warwick Farm, Canberra, Moruya and we took her up to Matt Dunn’s at Murwillumbah this week.

“After she ran second at Canterbury the other day I had a look at the program and I thought would be a really good option for her.

“When she drew soft and was down in the weights it looked a really good race for her.

“I’m rapt with today, everyone wants to have a runner on this day and this is our first opportunity to do so and to win is super.”Zafina was purchased for $65,000 at 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and has now won just shy of $270,000 in prizemoney.