Cox Plate favourite Zaaki scratched on race morning

Cox Plate favourite Zaaki is out of Saturday’s weight-for-age race due to an elevated temperature.

Trainer Annabel Neasham broke the news on Twitter just after 7.30am, leaving the Cox Plate field in disarray.

Zaaki and Mo’unga at trackwork at Moonee Valley.Credit:Racing Photos

“Absolutely devastated to report that Zaaki had been scratched from the Cox Plate due to an elevated temperature,” Neasham Racing tweeted.

“Gutted for connections and James McDonald.”

Sydney jockey McDonald had travelled to Victoria on Sunday and had been isolating for the past six days to ride the long-time Cox Plate favourite.

The TAB had paid out on Zaaki to win the race in September following his clinical Underwood Stakes win.

But his upset loss to Probabeel in the Might And Power Stakes opened the door for his rivals to challenge.

Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe is the new favourite for the race at $3, just ahead of Verry Elleegant at $3.80.

The race is left with a field of eight, following the withdrawal of import Gold Trip on Friday on vets’ advice.

A panel of four Racing Victoria veterinarians inspected the Australian Bloodstock galloper at Werribee on Friday and found him to be lame, declaring him unsuitable to race in the Cox Plate.

Neasham, who has also been approved to travel to Melbourne from Sydney, will still have Mo’unga represent her stable in the Cox Plate.

The Moonee Valley track has come up a Soft 5 on race morning after racing as a Good 3 during the Manikato Stakes meeting.

The connections of Kiwi galloper Probabeel had considered scratching their mare if the track came up too heavy, but she was still in the field at the time of scratchings.

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