Erratic Zezao on a steep learning curve for new handler
The re-education of problem child Zezao began yesterday with a quiet barrier trial up the Sha Tin straight, his first for new trainer Richard Gibson.
Athletic ability has never been in question for this erratic five-year-old with a litany of mental issues, who regularly produces forward efforts in his trials.
It's on the track where his problems regularly surface. He gets fractious in the gates and can miss the start. And if he does jump on terms, jockeys then have to deal with the horse getting his head in the air and racing ungenerously.
Zezao is winless in 25 starts, his rating plummeting to 36, but he keeps sucking punters in, starting at single figure odds at his last seven starts for one placing.
Taking on this project will certainly be a test of Gibson's horsemanship and that of his regular rider Olivier Doleuze, who has had the pleasure of partnering Zezao on raceday three times.
Wisely entered in a 1,000m heat where there would be pace, with side winkers removed, Doleuze did his best to let the horse settle into a rhythm. Zezao jumped awkwardly and raced a touch keen with his customary high head carriage, but overall the horse moved well and seemed content to cross the line midfield in fifth.