Stakeswinner Midway to redemption

Jason Coyle believes Zoukerino has his mojo back, but can the horse convert the good feels into a win?

ZOUKERINO. Picture: Steve Hart

A $500,000 yearling who won a stakes race at just his second start, Zoukerino's subsequent journey has been a bumpy one.

Following his auspicious beginning, the one-time stallion prospect went off the boil, prompting connections to have him gelded after he finished last in the 2023 Fireball Quality.

A stable change followed, but when he again failed to beat a rival home in a benchmark race at Randwick in October, Zoukerino was put up for sale.

His offering piqued the interest of trainer Jason Coyle, who after watching a handful of the horse's race replays, was convinced there was still something to work with and bought him for just over $32,000.

"He had run himself well out of form," Coyle said.

"He was purchased, from what I could see of the previous ownership, as a stallion prospect and once he was gelded, they ended up shooting him through Inglis Digital.

"I thought I'd seen enough on his replays to say that worst case scenario, he was going to be a good, honest metro horse."

Zoukerino has had five runs for Coyle and has improved each time.

Finishing fourth at Warwick Farm two starts ago, he filled the same position behind Flightcrew at Rosehill last time out after twice being disappointed for a run then stretching out late once clear.

He will meet similar grade in Saturday's Midway Handicap (1300m) at Rosehill, and from barrier one Coyle hopes his project horse can land an overdue win.

"He was purchased purely to try to get his enthusiasm for racing back because it looked like he'd lost it," Coyle said.

"I think we've done that. He has been to the races now and shown enough to say he wants to be a racehorse, which was probably the gamble we were taking.

"He has been a shade unlucky as well. He should have at least been getting closer to the winner last start after being held up twice."

With the bigger stables continuing to grow, smaller operations like Coyle's must continually think outside the box to maintain a competitive edge.

In identifying Zoukerino as a cheap buy capable of being coaxed back into form, Coyle hopes he has found the gelding's new connections a handy money-spinner for campaigns to come.

"Now we've just got to get the win next to his name and that would be a nice bonus," he said.