Beating recently retired superstar Christo Bale in a G1 heat over his pet middle distance – albeit nine months ago – would seem to be a fantastic form reference for female-only Grade 5 heats.
However, Devon Meadows trainer Michelle Nolan and husband Justin have learned the hard way not to take anything for granted with Zero Cool ahead of Saturday’s heats of the Snow Queen series (525m) at The Meadows.
This is Zero Cool’s second tilt at the Snow Queen, the final of which on Saturday week (August 28) is worth $12,000 to-the-winner, with the January ’18 daughter of Banjo Boy x Fancy Minter having finished third in the 2020 final at her 11th start.
Zero Cool, which is raced by Michelle’s son Brandon and good mates Jessie Lamont and Jamie Oliver, then stepped up in distance and went from strength to strength, culminating in her third-place finish in the G1 Hume Cup (600m) at The Meadows last November.
After a memorable heat victory over multiple Group winner Christo Bale, Zero Cool gave the Nolan family their first G1 finalist in the Hume Cup, where she was well-fancied at $3.80 and was only beaten 3.5 lengths by Last Hurrah.
But having overcome surgery to remove chips from a hock earlier in her career, a combination of serious injury and a seasonal spell has restricted Zero Cool to only nine more starts, with her overall record nine from 29.
WATCH: Zero Cool (3) upsets superstar Christo Bale (5) in a G1 Hume Cup heat (600m) at The Meadows last October.
“She was our first G1 runner so the Hume Cup was a big deal for us but because of COVID it was just me at the track; nobody else could go,” Nolan said.
“Not long after that she did a stopper tendon and I thought ‘This is it, this is the end’.
“But Dr Des Fegan (veterinary surgeon) said he could stitch it up and see how she goes.
“She had nothing to prove to us but we put her back in work and she’s been trialling as well as ever. We’re absolutely rapt with how she’s come back.”
Saturday’s assignment will be Zero Cool’s fifth run since resuming.
“She’s got a couple of 500s under her belt now and when she ran second at Sandown she ran a PB (29.50sec),” Nolan offered.
“The ultimate goal is to step her back up to 595m/600m, which she’ll probably be ready for after Saturday.”
Zero Cool, which boasts a slick 29.78sec PB at The Meadows, has drawn Box 2 in the second of three Snow Queen heats (race 7 at 5.57pm), where her opposition includes G1 Sapphire Crown finalist Persian Goddess (Box 5).
“Boxes don’t really matter, it’s more about what’s around her pace-wise,” said Michelle.
“If she could find a bit of early pace she’d be unbeatable! But she just lacks that ‘zing’ out of the boxes and needs some room to move and then she takes off.
“She loves The Meadows for some reason and just needs a clear run.”
While Zero Cool has given the Nolan family some of their greatest thrills in greyhound racing, Michelle says that one thing is still missing.
“Because of COVID, the three boys that own her haven’t been able to get a photo at the track with all of them in it, which is a bit sad!”
Michelle is also the part-owner/breeder of a leading contender in the third and final Snow Queen heat in Jazz Opera (Box 1), which is trained by good friends and neighbours Peter and Natalie Presutto.
“The Presuttos ran second in the Snow Queen last year with Immersion and we finished third with Zero Cool, so maybe we can run first and second this time!’’ Michelle quipped.
Jazz Opera, which has won 7 from 19, is a well-bred daughter of Fernando Bale and 2019 G2 Cranbourne Cup placegetter Hightan, and the litter also includes Cha Cha Again (3 from 7), which Michelle has in action in race 3 at Cranbourne on Saturday.
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