Zabeel gelding Ironstein recorded their sixth career win from 25 starts back on May 21 when the narrow winner of the Listed W.J. McKell Cup over 2400m at Rosehill.
The win followed on from Ironstein’s eye-catching third behind Voice Commander in the Listed Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) on May 6 and showed their potential as a stayer to watch this season.
Now Ryan will give Ironstein the chance for a second straight Cup win at Rosehill when he saddles the galloper up in the $100,000 Listed Winter Cup (2400m) on Saturday.
A field of 10 final acceptors were paid up for this year’s Winter Cup showdown, Ironstein currently holding equal favouritism in the odds with Tullamore.
Drawn in barrier six and due to be ridden by apprentice jockey Josh Adams at 55kg, Ironstein is paying $5 to become the Winter Cup winner on the weekend.
Adams will begin a seven month suspension following Saturday’s Rosehill meeting after pleading guilty to a banned-substance charge earlier this week.
After drawing nicely with gate four, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Savabeel four-year-old Tullamore also has plenty of support to warm up the season with a Winter Cup win after running fourth in the McKell Cup.
Form and fans may favour Ironstein, but history is against Ryan’s runner with the last horse to claim the WJ McKell Cup – Winter Cup double being Grand Connection back in 1995.
Ironstein faced a quality field of rivals in the McKell Cup, however, and Ryan is happy with how they came through the race.
“He has done well since the McKell Cup and this race (the Winter Cup) looks no tougher than what he ran against the other day,” Ryan said.
“He’ll run unless it’s a real bog.
“The Brisbane Cup is a possibility if he doesn’t run this week.”
With heavy rainfall in Sydney this week, there is every chance the Rosehill track will still be significantly rain-affected come Saturday.
If scratched from the race, Ironstein’s next target as indicated by Ryan will be the $300,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Handicap Day Saturday week.
Two years ago Ryan enjoyed success with this same campaign thanks to his More Than Ready mare Ready To Lift who won the 2009 WJ McKell Cup before running a brave second to Scenic Shot in that year’s Brisbane Cup.
In a wide open field, other horses engaged for the Winter Cup ready to bring their best include the Chris Waller-trained veteran Strike One (barrier five), Guy Walter’s consistent Super Jet mare Skyerush (barrier two), Pens five-year-old Legsman (barrier three), dual Group 1 winner Vision And Power (barrier one) and Kiwi raider Indikator (barrier seven).