Jockey Gregg Morris rode Zaccio to a 15-length victory over Cookie in the 28th running of the Noel Laing Steeplechase Handicap before a Montpelier Hunt race crowd of 5,000 today.
"The field was much more competitive today and he reacted to it like the class horse he is," Morris said.
"He was way off at Essex," added Morris who finished last aboard Mrs. Lewis Murdock's 1980 Eclipse Award winner in that race.It was the second win in the last three starts for the 5-year-old who has been hampered by injuries over the past year.
Carrying 158 pounds, Zaccio spotted 10 pounds to Cookie and 14 to Archange D'or, the French import who set the pace over the first four fences in the 2 1/2-mile, 12-jump handicap.
"He ran just the way we wanted," said Morris, who moved Zaccio up with Cookie when the latter took the lead at the fifth fence. Both horses were even at the sixth before Zaccio broke the race open in the long run to the seventh fence.
Cookie held on to take the place by 18 lengths over Yellow Boy. Doug Fout pulled up Archange D'or late in the race.
"It looks as if we're going in the Colonial Cup," added Morris, referring to steeplechasing's premier raceat Camden, S.C., in two weeks.
However only one Noel Laing winner, Lucky Boy in 1973, has gone on to win the Colonial.