James Ferguson has declared himself “elated” after claiming a first Listed prize with Zoetic on Sunday.
The Newmarket handler saddled his first juvenile stakes runners at Newbury over the weekend, watching Francesco Guardi finish third in the Listed Denford Stakes on Saturday before Zoetic captured the Listed St Hugh’s Fillies’ Stakes the following day.
Zoetic’s success vindicated her trainer’s decision to run in the black-type contest following her maiden win at Wolverhampton, as her BHA mark suggested she had plenty to find with some of her rivals.
Ferguson, who has enjoyed 13 winners to date in his first full season with a licence, said: “The feeling is elation. I’m extremely proud of her. We went there knowing the form was on our side. She is a very consistent filly that takes her racing very well.
“I was confident of a big run and the way she did it was very impressive. She obviously loved the ground, which was a question mark, and the race suited her.
“She has grown up with every run and I genuinely believe she has an exciting future ahead of her. Oisin [Murphy] gave her a lovely ride.
“People may have thought I was taking a bit of a risk running a horse off 74 in a Listed race but the owners wanted to run her and racing manager Badger Pritchard-Gordon filled me with confidence.
“The owners run a stud farm and want black type and that was the plan from the day we bought her. Newbury staged the only black type race for two-year-old fillies only over five furlongs in the UK so we had to take our chance and I’m delighted we did.
“We’ve ticked the black type box now but hopefully she can progress and take a step up.”
By Kodiac out of the Zamindar mare Zallerina, Zoetic was sourced by Badgers Bloodstock for £52,000 at last year’s Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale.
Her owner, registered as Glentree Pastoral Pty Ltd, is Australian-based breeder Bruce Wilson, who Ferguson met while working down under for Lee Freedman.
“It’s wonderful to have his support,” the trainer continued. “Badger and Tom [Pritchard-Gordon] are close friends of the owner. It’s a real team effort and the whole way through this filly’s training they’ve been on the phone through every entry and declaration.
“Kieren Fallon rides out for me and he’s ridden Zoetic in most of her work. He’s liked her from day one and Alice, my yard apprentice, has also done a wonderful job.”
Francesco Guardi, a son of Frankel purchased by Amanda Skiffington for 200,000 guineas at Book 1 last year, is another exciting prospect for the Ferguson stable. Having scored on his debut at Salisbury, he ran well to be beaten only a length and a half in his Listed assignment.
“It was a massive step up for just his second run,” Ferguson said. “He was very green first time out and didn’t really know what he was doing until half a furlong before the line.
“He jumped and travelled really well on Saturday and when push came to shove I think the ground caught him out. He was inexperienced and needs further. But I was very happy with him and I’m excited to see what he’ll do next.”