Topweight Zelenski made light of his 58kg impost when he led all the way to take out the feature race at Riccarton on Saturday, the Greenwood Amberley Cup (1600m).
The consistent six-year-old son of Shocking had taken out the Waimate Cup (1600m) at Timaru on a Good4 surface at his most recent start, and showed his versatility as he ploughed through the Heavy10 track at southern headquarters to land the win for co-trainers Ken Rae and his daughter Krystal Williams.
Zelenski lobbed along in front for apprentice Kelsey Hannan, then started to lift the tempo with 600m to run as his main rivals looked to swoop into contention.
It was left to eventual runner-up Athene to provide the main opposition to the winner as she went up alongside him at the 300m, but Zelenski found a terrific kick to hold out his opposition as he scored by half-a-length at the line.
Rae was thrilled with the win after lacking his usual confidence going into the race, due to Zelenski’s less than stellar record on heavy tracks.
“He’s had seven starts before this on a heavy track for one placing, so it was hard to be totally confident of a winning run,” Rae said.
“He has won on a soft track, but it was pretty loose out there today, which helped him plus it was a top ride from Kelsey.
“She started off with us and is very good friends with Krystal, so it was fantastic to have her on board and to win such a nice race.”
Rae will now study the programming calendar before deciding on the next start for his charge, who has the Gr.3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) on 5 August as his main mission.
“I might give him a run in the Oamaru Cup (1600m) to keep him up to the mark before the Winter Cup,” he said.
“That will depend on what weight he is going to get, as if he wins that and cops another re-handicap then it might weigh him out of the Winter Cup.
“He has always been a pretty handy horse and now he has matured he can carry the bigger weights, but you don’t want to crucify them.”
Bred and raced by one of Rae’s longtime owners in Lars Pearson, Zelenski has now won six of his 45 starts and over $182,000 in prizemoney.