Grateful Neasham announces Zaaki’s retirement

Weight-for-age star Zaaki has run his last race.

ZAAKI winning the TAB Champions Stakes
ZAAKI winning the TAB Champions Stakes Picture: Darryl Shearer / Sportpix

Nine-year-old top-level weight-for-age performer Zaaki has been retired from racing after a 48-start career and amassing more than $11 million in prizemoney.

Annabel Neasham made the announcement on Friday praising the gelding who she attributes as a catalyst to her own success overall as a trainer. 

"It is a bittersweet day to be retiring our absolute superstar in Zaaki," Neasham said via X - formerly Twitter.

"As a young trainer setting out, who would have thought I'd come across a horse like him.

"From day one I owe a huge amount of our success to him. He helped put my name on the map and took us to heights most trainers would only dream of getting to."

Zaaki's career began with a second placing at Great Yarmouth in England in June 2017 in a Novice Stakes event over 1200-metres and it wasn't until April the next year later that he broke his maiden at Thirsk over 1600-metres.

Longer distances were more to his liking and through 2019, Zaaki mixed it with group company in the UK.

His Australian debut was in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in 2021 for an eighth placing but it was the Brisbane Racing Carnival where Australians got a first glimpse of his talent stringing together successive wins in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m), a seven-length romp in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m), and the Group 2 The Q22 (2200m).

Adding to the Doomben Cup victory, Zaaki's three other wins at the highest level came in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) when run at Sandown, Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and then again in the same race but renamed the Group 1 Champions Stakes (2000m) in 2022.

Zaaki won three successive Hollindale Stakes.

Jockeys James Mcdonald and Jamie Jah paid tribute to Zaaki, each of whom celebrated group one successes aboard him.

"You wore your heart on your sleeve and gave it everything you've got every time your stepped out," McDonald said.

Zaaki retires with a record of 15 wins and 18 placings.