Zechariah advertises St Leger chance with Freer win

Wed 10 Aug 2022

Zechariah staked his St Leger claims with an all-the-way victory in the BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

Sent off the 6-4 favourite for trainers Martyn and Freddie Meade, despite disappointing at Newmarket last time out, Zechariah broke sharply for Tom Marquand, who was eager to push on in front.

Outbox and Hollie Doyle sat on his heels for most of the extended one-mile-five-furlong trip and looked likely to mount a strong challenge at the top of the straight.

However, Zechariah kept finding for pressure and while Universal Order made a late bid for glory, the winner had flown, coming home three and a half lengths clear.

Paddy Power clipped the Nathaniel colt to 16-1 from 20s for the Cazoo St Leger on September 10, with Doncaster Classic in connections’ sights.

Freddie Meade said: “I think the St Leger is on the cards. That is what we had in the back of our minds before this, so we will talk to everybody and make a plan.

“Tom gave him a great ride and knew him from winning here last year and he sat on him before Ascot, so we are thrilled to get him on board and get the job done.

“He is a nice colt and it was trainer error at Newmarket and he has got us off the hook today. It was my fault actually – the young, gung-ho approach!

“I think he is very versatile in terms of ground as he won on good to soft here last year and he has performed at Ascot on quick ground. To have a horse that versatile is brilliant.”

Marquand was similarly impressed with Zechariah, who was only narrowly beaten in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.

He added: “It was really straightforward. That run back after Ascot probably came just a bit quick for him in reality. He has done nothing wrong.

“It is a class jump to the St Leger but as I said to Freddie, you can’t put him off on what he has done there. He stays really well and he has handled that ground fine, but arguably you’d say he does handle a little bit of cut.

“So, the backend of the season shouldn’t be the end of the world for him. He is a stayer that is moving forward and the size of him now would suggest that whatever he does this season, he will improve upon next season and beyond.

“It is great for (part owner) Aquis Farm to have a nice stayer as they have the really long-term views. They have plenty going on in Australia and I’m sure they will have that in the back of their minds.

“I’m looking forward to getting back there at some point.”

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