Flemington’s iconic 2012 Melbourne Cup on Tuesday November 6 is shaping up as an attractive spring carnival option for Gerald Ryan’s classy stayer Ironstein who by a stroke of luck missed last year’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Rosehill-based Ryan made a late decision to accept his Zabeel six-year-old Ironstein for the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival despite being unconvinced the galloper would be ready for the testing two mile showdown.
As fortune had it, Ironstein was balloted out of the Melbourne Cup field by just two positions and went on instead to easily win the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) by two and a half lengths on Emirates Stakes Day taking out an additional $100,000 bonus for the victory as a Melbourne Cup acceptor.
“I got a bit worried when he moved up to number 26 for the Cup and I thought he might get a start and I didn’t want him to,” Ryan explained.
“I didn’t think he was mature enough for 3200 metres and the Queen Elizabeth was the plan.”
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes was Ironstein’s eighth career win from 34 starts and their fourth at stakes level and helped convince Ryan that they would be progressive enough for the Melbourne Cup this year.
It also helped ensure they would be balloted inside the top 24 in the Melbourne Cup order of entry for 2012.
“The Queen Elizabeth qualified him for the Melbourne Cup so that won’t be a worry,” Ryan said.
More immediately Ryan is focused on making Ironstein a Group 1 winner during the autumn, a possible first-up run in the $2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on April 21 on the cards.
Ironstein returned to Ryan last week in fine form last week having spent six weeks at the Strawberry Hill property of part-owner John Singleton.
“He came back last Thursday and looks sensational,” Ryan confirmed.
“The plan could be to go to the Doncaster Prelude and then two or three races in Queensland.
“Or he could go first-up into the Doncaster.
“He goes so well first-up and would get into the race with a light weight so it is an option.
“In Queensland we are looking at races like the Hollindale Stakes, the Doomben Cup and the O’Shea Stakes.”
The $300,000 Group 2 AD Hollindale Stakes (1800m) runs at the Gold Coast on May 5 while the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) will run a fortnight later during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
The richest race of its kind in the world, each year the Melbourne Cup attracts a field of stayers from both Australia and overseas, the most recent Melbourne Cup winner being the French-trained Dunaden who held on in a thrilling photo finish to beat home fellow European raider Red Cadeaux in 2011.
It was the second straight year the country’s prized race was claimed by a French-trained horse following Americain’s upset win in 2010.
The 2012 Melbourne Cup will again be the highlight of the annual Victorian Spring Racing Carnival, very early futures markets on the feature led by $21 chance Lucas Cranach, Anthony Freedman’s German import having run third in last year’s edition.
Ironstein is rated a $151 chance in these tentative Melbourne Cup odds.
More definite Melbourne Cup betting will open at our preferred online bookmaker Luxbet closer to the spring.
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