Zougotcha beats Atishu in the G1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes

Zougotcha has continued her faultless autumn preparation and narrowly denied her stablemate Atishu back-to-back Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes wins at Randwick.

After a spring preparation which did not go to plan with Zougotcha, trainer Chris Waller reset with the four-year-old mare who has returned this autumn in brilliant form and won three-straight stakes races.

Two of those victories have been in Group 1 races, with the four-year-old adding Saturday’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) to her last-start Coolmore Classic success.

“Things just didn’t go right in the spring,” Waller said.

“We didn’t panic. The owners were great, they just backed me to say ‘let’s give her a spell’. We gave her a proper break and she’s won three from three this preparation.

“She’s a tough mare.”

Scratched from last Saturday’s Doncaster Mile on a heavy track from a deep draw to be saved for the Queen Of The Turf, Zougotcha ($3.50 fav) settled in the box seat behind leader Tropical Squall before sprinting to the front inside the final 200m.

Zougotcha’s stablemate Atishu ($3.70), who won the Queen Of The Turf last year, struck a little bit of traffic before getting clear and she launched late only to be denied by a short half-head.

Semana ($14), who was runner-up to Zougotcha in the Coolmore Classic last month, was another 1-1/4-lengths away third.

“They are good mates in the stables at home too,” Waller said of Zougotcha and Atishu.

“So there will be a bit of bragging rights. In another stride it might have been a different result. But it’s 1600-metres exactly and Zougotcha got the win.”

James Mcdonald has ridden Zougotcha in all but one of her eight career wins – including three Group Ones – and believes the inside barrier draw on Saturday aided the mare to get the right run.

“I’m very proud of this mare,” McDonald said.

“She’s just an absolute ripper.

“Barriers win races, let’s be fair, because she’s drawn beautiful marbles all the way through and she’s had the beautiful runs. But she’s allowed herself to do it. She executes perfectly every time.”

Atishu’s jockey Blake Shinn said Atishu was brave in defeat and unlucky not to win.

“Just hemmed away there, took my time to get to the outside,” Shinn said.

“Stiff not to win.”

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