Zardozi did the job for James Cummings and James McDonald

Sam Hayes.jfif
Sam Hayes
Horse Racing Tips
Zardozi breezed to VRC Kennedy Oaks glory at Flemington.

The 2024 Melbourne Festival continues to deliver, with Zardozi coming up trumps in the hotly contested VRC Kennedy Oaks

News Insights

  • 3-year-old Zardozi blitzed the Flemington field, winning the VRC Oaks.
  • Godolphin trained flyer was expertly steered to victory by James McDonald.
  • Zardozi triumphed in the 2500m race by 2.5 lengths from Aethelflaed in 2nd.
  • Basilinna finished 3rd, in legendary jockey Damien Oliver’s last VRC Oaks outing.

Whilst it is not always the race at the Melbourne Festival that creates the most traction with online betting sites, the VRC Oaks is always hotly contested and that proved to be the case once more in 2023. 

The usual suspects were in the mix, but it was the favourite Zardozi who triumphed for James Cummings and Godolphin, with James McDonald’s performance in the saddle rightfully picking up plenty of plaudits too. 

With A$1 million in the prize pot and in a race dating back to 1861, the VRC Kennedy Oaks always perks the attention of punters and Aussie bookmakers alike and once again in 2023, it delivered. 

With the good ground seemingly suiting all at Flemington this week, it was always going to be a test of which horse could demonstrate the cleanest pair of heels and it was indeed Godolphin-trained Zardozi who etched its name into the history books for connections. 

Zardozi too hot to handle 

The VRC Kennedy Oaks is a real yard stick of a race for punters at the Melbourne Festival, with the 2500m trip a real test of speed and stamina in equal measure. 
Whilst the likes of Amazonian Lass and Tropical Squall had a better record over both course and distance, Zardozi was being favoured by the bookmakers for a reason and duly delivered. 
Despite being locked in midfield for much of the race, Zardozi looked to have pace to burn and once James McDonald expertly engineered a gap, there only looked to be one outcome. 
As Zardozi streaked away from the rest of the field, connections began to celebrate, and Australian racing looks to have yet another firecracker of a horse on its hands. 
What next for Zardozi? 

Winning the VRC Oaks is always a real mark in the sand for some of the fastest horses around and now that Zardozi has that gong in the bag, the world looks to be its oyster. 
Being part of the Godolphin conveyor belt will give connections huge hope for Zardozi in the future, who justified the short price favourtism with a superb run at Flemington. 
Trainer James Cummings always gets the very best out of his horses and with big rides such as the Melbourne Cup potentially on the agenda in the future, Zardozi is certainly a name to keep an eye on within the Australian horse racing fraternity.  
Battle for the ages 

Inevitably, with Zardozi crossing the line in first place, the rest of the field will be left reflecting on how to recover from the loss and prepare for the next outing. 
Zardozi was the favourite for the race and put in a performance befitting of just that but the biggest disappointment in the contest was perhaps the performance of Tropical Squall. 
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained flyer looked good in the first half of the race but fell off the pace badly, dropping back into 10th place and ultimately didn’t look to be a great fit for the 2500m trip. 
Elsewhere, both Aethelflaed and Basilinna were well backed in the betting ring, and they will feel they were simply beaten by a better horse on the day in Zardozi. Both horses showed up well through the latter stages, finding speed in the dying embers, suggesting that the 2500m trip could be ideal in future.

The much-scrutinised VRC Kennedy Oaks delivered once more in 2023, with Zardozi triumphing for Godolphin with James McDonald on board. 
As the dust settles on yet another Melbourne Festival, punters and experts are left wondering how far Zardozi can go, through 2023 and beyond.