Zhukova is clear in Navan
© Photo Healy Racing
Zhukova turned the tables on Duchessofflorence in getting off the mark in the mile and a quarter fillies maiden at Navan.
Dermot Weld's three-year-old had finished fourth to Blue Paraiba at Fairyhouse, a race in which Duchessofflorence came home second in. There was just over half a length between the pair then.
The market expected Zhukova to come on markedly from that run as she missed the break and stayed on well for fourth. She was sent off the 8/15 favourite from 8/13 on opening show and the market proved right.
Duchessofflorence led under Shane Foley from Laffina and Zhukova. The latter was sent after Duchessofflorence at the three pole and she was almost on terms going past the two marker.
Push came to shove on Duchessofflorence as Zhukova was pushed along to lead a furlong and a half out. Pat Smullen asked her to go and win her race in the final furlong and she stretched away to take the spoils by three and a quarter lengths.
Duchessofflorence kept on for second at 7/2. She was two and a half lengths in front of 33/1 outsider Alex Girl in third.
"She did it very nicely. She did what we thought she'd do," said Dermot Weld.
"She ran a lovely race first time and progressed nicely. She's potentially a very nice stakes filly.
"Hopefully she'll campaign at stakes level from here on in and she wants to go further.
"I have to compliment Navan. After a dry spell they have the track in magnificent condition."
Additional reporting by Gary Carson
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