Tag Archive for: Zanza

Hobbs anticipating Great test for Zanza at Newbury

Philip Hobbs feels his “staggering” stable stalwart Zanza has plenty on his plate in his bid for a sixth victory at Newbury in Saturday’s BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup.

The nine-year-old has been beaten only once in six previous appearances at the Berkshire circuit and that was when sixth in the 2020 Betfair Hurdle.

He ran away with a handicap chase at Newbury in November, but few gave him much of a chance in last month’s Grade Two Denman Chase, in which he powered seven lengths clear of the high-class Hitman.

Hobbs said: “That win was obviously fantastic and we were very lucky in a way that it happened in an ITV race, with Tom O’Brien riding as well. It was all great.”

The Minehead handler is looking forward to sending Zanza back to his favourite track this weekend, but feels a 15lb hike in the weights, coupled with a drop in distance, will make life difficult.

“He is also in the Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday, but Newbury is his first preference and that was always the plan,” Hobbs added.

“He is a staggering horse, in that his form at Newbury is so much better than elsewhere.

“Unfortunately now, though, for winning the Denman, which obviously the handicapper didn’t think he would, he has paid the penalty and gone up a hell of a lot, and actually two and a half (miles) is on the short side as well. I think this time, it might be a little less easy than it has been before.

“They have altered the ground to good and have taken out the good to firm in places. As far as Zanza is concerned, fast ground is not an issue anyway. The biggest issue now is his new handicap mark.”

Paint The Dream in action at Newbury
Paint The Dream in action at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Zanza is one two horses set to carry the welter burden of 12st along with last year’s winner Paint The Dream.

Fergal O’Brien’s charge reverts to handicap company after finishing a well-beaten third behind Pic D’Orhy in the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton in January.

O’Brien said of his three-time course winner: “He’s in great form and we’re very happy with him. Fingers crossed he can do it again.

“It’s a slighter harder task than last year, but he’ll be doing his best.

“He loves the place and he’ll love the ground, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Tom Lacey-trained Sebastopol makes his first appearance since springing a surprise in a Grade Two novice event at Newbury in November, while Chris Gordon’s Lord Baddesley – another previous Newbury winner – bids to follow up an impressive recent verdict at Plumpton.

Gordon said: “He jumped beautifully at Plumpton and has grown up a lot this year. He’s got a few more races under his belt and I was really thrilled with him at Plumpton.

“If we can just progress a little bit more, hopefully we’ve got a great chance.

“He’s got a good racing weight (10st 2lb), although I’m not sure the jockey (Tom Cannon) would agree as I think it’s the lightest he’s done for a while – he could be pretty hungry on Saturday!”

Espoir De Guye (Paul Nicholls), The Big Bite (Henry Oliver) and Gemirande (Venetia Williams) complete the septet.

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Zanza records landmark success for PhIlip Hobbs in Denman Chase

Course specialist Zanza provided Philip Hobbs with his 3,000th winner in the Betfair Denman Chase.

Hobbs went the whole of January without a winner as he edged closer to the landmark figure – and it was apt that a stable stalwart like Zanza would provide him with it.

The nine-year-old has only won seven races under rules, with the last five of them now all being at Newbury.

The 16-1 chance was ridden by Tom O’Brien, who since the retirement of Richard Johnson has been stable jockey for Hobbs and his delight was evident as he raised his arm aloft on crossing the line seven lengths ahead of 9-4 favourite Hitman.

For Hobbs, trainer of the likes of Rooster Booster, Monkerhostin, Flagship Uberalles, Menorah, Captain Chris and Defi De Seuil, it was undoubtedly special to have such a winner in a Grade Two event.

He said: “It is extraordinary how this horse is so much better here than anywhere else. I’ve never had a horse to that extent. He’d only ever been beaten once here, which was in the Betfair Hurdle and he was only beaten about three lengths in that.

“I didn’t anticipate that – not on his previous form.

“The obvious race to come for is the handicap in three weeks’ time, but I don’t know what the handicapper will do after that.

“Cheltenham is possible, so supplementing I suppose has to be an option.”

On Johnson White, who has been with the yard for just under 30 years, coming onto the licence, he added: “It has been in the pipeline for some time – he has been with us a very long time and obviously he is a big part of the set-up.

“I think, maybe, if it has to be done, it has to be done sooner rather than later.

“He has got some people who will bring some horses to the table as well.

“The 3,000 has been a bit slow coming in the last few weeks, but we got there eventually.

“It has taken us a long while to do it.”

Asked about the big-race winners over the years, Hobbs said: “Rooster Booster was extraordinary, because he went 18 months without being beaten. He was the highest-rated hurdler in the country at the time. And more recently, Defi Du Seuil won seven Grade Ones.”

Asked about the lack of winners in recent times and whether he was still enjoying training, he said: “I still very much enjoy it. I’m going to be around for a long time.

“Early in my career, we had very few horses and not many winners, either. We have had a very good period in between. It has been a bit slow recently, but hopefully Johnson will bring more to the table.

“I’m a little emotional. It has been a long time, so I suppose that’s right – but not very emotional!

“I’m not thinking of drawing stumps in the slightest. I shall still be there very much as well.”

Hobbs’ wife, Sarah, said: “We have found it difficult as we’ve had about 12 seconds in the last two weeks. We have had 32 seconds and 21 winners, so it has been a nightmare.

“He doesn’t get emotional, but this has been quite difficult, because it has been 2,999 for so long. Everything you try to do, it gets worse.”

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