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Group 1 star Zaaki retired

Four-time Group 1 winner Zaaki (Leroidesanimaux) has been retired from racing after a 48-start career and amassing more than $11 million in prize-money.

The nine-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux (Candy Stripes) was purchased by his trainer Annabel Neasham and Blandford Bloodstock for 150,000 guineas at the 2020 Tattersalls Horses-in-Training Sale, and went on to race 27 times in Australia, recording 11 wins and a further ten placings.

From an Australian debut that saw him run eighth in the 2021 Doncaster Mile (Gr 1, 1600m), Zaaki would go on to score in the 2021 Doomben Cup (Gr 1, 2000m), 2021 Underwood Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m), 2021 Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m), and then again in the same race when it was renamed as the Champions Stakes in 2022.

Those top-level victories were backed up by six wins in Group 2 company, and a hugely lucrative success in the 2022 All-Star Mile (1600m), worth $5 million at the time. Zaaki’s last run saw him finish runner-up in the Northerly Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m) at Ascot on December 9.

Neasham made the announcement on Friday and praised the gelding who she attributes as a catalyst to her own success as a trainer. 

“To look back now, he may well be the best horse I ever train and to start my career with him is unbelievable,” she told RSN927.

“When I look back now – I was aware of it at the time – but now I actually do look back and think, ‘wow to start my career with a horse like him’. He took my name straight in lights winning Group 1s in my first season of training.

“I’d only been training for 14 months when I had the favourite for the Cox Plate. Obviously, that was a fateful day when we had to scratch him, but he, without a doubt, accelerated my career.

“Without him we certainly wouldn’t have grown and been as successful as we have been.

“He won’t be replaced. He’ll always be incredibly special to me.”

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