Zinzan Brooke claimed back-to-back country cup titles on Sunday afternoon, continuing his purple patch of form in the Group 3 All 4 Paws & Claws Healesville Cup (350m).
Trained by namesake Brooke Ennis and husband Jamie, Zinzan Brooke was making his fourth appearance in a country cup decider in 2017 at Healesville, having won the Shepparton Cup in late July and also qualified for the finals at Warrnambool (5th) and Bendigo (6th).
Zinzan Brooke’s second Cup triumph was especially satisfying for Queensland-based owner/breeder Wayne Thomson, who celebrated trackside on this occasion after missing the thrilling Shepparton success.
“It’s nice to win any race but group wins are particularly special,” Thomson said. “We fly to Melbourne for most of his big races, but we missed his Shepparton Cup win so it was good to be here this time around. Tracey (wife) and I have been in the game for 30 years and we are absolutely blessed. We only breed one litter a year, and this litter has been fantastic.”
“Zinzan Brooke and Judicial Man are the best of them, but there’s also Back To Business, who we recently retired. She won the Mick Byrne Memorial Final at Albion Park, and there’s also Funky Town, who has won a number of races in New Zealand.”
Zinzan Brooke had a brief let-up after edging out Bewildering in the Shepparton Cup, resuming in the Healesville heats where he claimed his fifth straight win when clocking 18.90sec, the second fastest qualifying performance.
Unbeaten in three appearances over 350m at Healesville, Zinzan Brooke started $2.70 favourite from box two in Sunday’s star-studded $25,000 to-the-winner straight track showdown, rated by local experts as the best field in the event’s 28-year history.
After settling second behind Burn Like Fire ($5.40), Zinzan Brooke powered clear in the closing stages to defeat Aston Dee Bee ($4.70) by .93 lengths in 18.89sec.
The win improved Zinzan Brooke’s remarkable record to 26 from 35, including 10 of his last 12, and gave the Ennis kennel their second Healesville Cup, having won the race with Size Does Matter in 2014.
“I thought he was a good chance without being overly confident because of the form he is in,” Brooke Ennis said.
“He started his career in Queensland and he raced a few times at Capalaba, which is a grass straight track. We also trial here regularly, so that would have helped his chances.
“He is the ultimate professional and he is getting a little bit stronger. We will aim for the Adelaide Cup and then the Geelong Cup, and all going well we will target the Melbourne Cup. He has only raced at Geelong once before and that was in a heat of the Geelong Cup last year when he ran unplaced.”
If Zinzan Brooke is able to snare another provincial cup in 2017 he’ll secure a $50,000 bonus for securing three Victorian country cups in a calendar year.
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This story was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley. Images by Clint Anderson.