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Distance no concern for Zouna in J.J. Atkins

Fri 7 June 2024

By Glenn Davis

Brisbane’s Lawrie Mayfield-Smith will be out to join his famous brothers, Brian and Noel, as a Group 1 winning trainer in the J.J. Atkins at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Mayfield-Smith is pinning his hopes on Zouna in the 1600 metre feature after the youngster’s eye-catching effort to finish second to Godolphin’s Broadsiding in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm on June 1.

Mayfield-Smith is yet to win at the highest level unlike the retired Australian Hall Of Fame trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith who finished with more than 30 Group 1 wins during his illustrious career.

Younger brother Noel still trains in NSW and has five Group 1s including his famous Stradbroke Handicap victory with Landsighting in 2000.

The 73-year-old Lawrie Mayfield-Smith is the longest serving trainer in Brisbane and only has a small number of horses in work at Doomben.

He has shown his loyalty by retaining jockey Adin Thompson.

Zouna is a $16 chance to smash the Group 1 ceiling for Mayfield-Smith behind $1.65 favourite Broadsiding.

Zouna cost $120,000 as a yearling and is stepping up to 1600 metres for the first time but that doesn’t faze Mayfield-Smith who would like a dry track.

“The distance won’t worry him and his father, Zousain, ran in this race and just got beaten and he’s very stoutly bred on the dam’s side,” Mayfield-Smith said.

“His last run was very good as he got off balance on the turn when another horse came out.

“Adin (Thompson) said it didn’t cost him the race, but he should have finished closer.

“Broadsiding won the Fernhill and Champagne Stakes in Sydney and that’s a good indicator he’s going to make a good three-year-old.”

Mayfield-Smith has overcome a series of health concerns during his career including a heart attack 20 years ago and a successful battle against bowel cancer.

He started training in 1976 and still rates Post Elect as his best horse following the gelding’s win in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes at Randwick in 1990.

Mayfield-Smith went close to winning his maiden Group 1 with Sonata who finished second in the Queensland Oaks in 1996.

He also finished third with Freedom Road in the J.J. Atkins when it was known as the Champagne Stakes in 1997.

“We backed him in at 66-1 but Al Mansour won and he was odds-on,” he said.

Queensland is yet to claim a Group 1 this winter but Zouna and the Kelly Schweida-trained El Morzillo are the state's best hopes since the Robert Heathcote-trained Rothfire won the J.J. Atkins in 2020.

El Morzillo is a $15 chance to win the J.J. Atkins following her second in the Group 2 Spirit Of Boom Classic and close-up seventh to Broadsiding in the Group 2 Sires' Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm.