Back to basics for talented but unruly Zezao

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am


Richard Gibson said he was forced to go back to 'square one' with Zezao, as he successfully dropped the talented but hard-to-catch galloper back in trip.

There has been no better advertisement of the rookie trainer's skill at turning horses around than the hard-going six-year-old, who was still a local maiden from 25 starts and had fallen into Class Five on a rating of 36 when Gibson began training him.

Zezao was sent into a 1,000m race at his first run for his new handler as an educational exercise, Gibson hoping he would learn to relax behind a faster speed.

The tactic worked, Zezao settled and was an unlucky second, then won twice more over 1,400m, but last start he was back to his old ways and overraced badly when jumping from a wide gate.

So yesterday's run, in part, was another effort at rehabilitation, but it turned out much more than that as he burst along the grandstand rail for a dominant 4 1/4-length victory that will propel him into Class Three.

'We wanted to give him a refresher on how to race properly,' Gibson said. 'After he pulled again last start, I thought it was a good idea to have him settle behind. There's one or two wins in him yet, but the key to him is pace.'

It was Olivier Doleuze's (pictured) first ride on the 'new and improved' Zezao, after riding him four times for previous trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah.

The Frenchman said barrier 14 was a blessing, giving the horse one less thing to think about as he followed the outside rail behind a suitably fast tempo.

'He loves it when the pace is fast, he doesn't pull and he puts his head down,' Doleuze said.

Even though both wins for Gibson were over seven-furlongs and he had run decent races up to a mile previously, Doleuze suggested sprint trips may be run more suitably up in grade.

'Over further, if he draws a bad gate, he can overrace,' he said. 'You can have him well physically, but that doesn't mean he is going to run a good race. The race has to be run right for him, like today.'