Big year ahead for Fastnet mare Zhukova

Jockey Pat Smullen was full of praise for Zhukova (5m Fastnet Rock- Nightime, by Galileo) after the Dermot Weld-trained mare landed Cork’s Listed Noblesse Stakes with ease on Sunday.

It was a fifth black-type victory for Zhukova, who was bred by Weld’s late mother Marguerite out of G1 Irish 1,00 Guinease heroine Nightime, and connections are hopeful of a fruitful year.

“She's turned into a fabulous big mare and she's always had a lot of talent. This was a beautiful starting point for her and hopefully she'll build on it,” said Smullen. “I was just in front too soon on her today but a better class race will help you out in that regard. She's been a great servant and there is plenty to look forward to this year with her. I think a better class race will bring about more improvement in her.” Weld was represented by his son Kris, who reported: “She's obviously a mare we're very fond of and will be going back up to Group company next - where and when we'll see in a couple of weeks time. The Blue Wind might be a suitable race next, she won it last year and good ground would be fine for her. "It's fitting she won today as her dam (Nightime) won her maiden here on Easter Sunday before winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas."