This Emirates Stakes Day Gerald Ryan’s veteran Zabeel gelding Ironstein will look to score their second successive Queen Elizabeth Stakestitle as they also vie for a juicy $100,000 bonus.
The $100,000 is on offer to any horse that was balloted out of this year’s Melbourne Cup and that subsequently wins the $250,000 Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Seven-year-old Ironstein is one such horse and he is also the defending champ having won last year’s feature by two and a half lengths when carrying 54kg with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle from barrier 9 of 14.
This year he will carry 2kg more with 56kg, Avdulla booked for the ride again, and they have drawn the same gate as 12 months ago which could be an omen.
Ironstein was unlucky not to earn a Cup bid in 2012 having been in top form this time in.
Third-up they came from Sydney to Melbourne and ran a good third to Bianmick in the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m), before an unlucky fourth to Shahwardi – who is also running in the Queen Elizabeth this weekend, in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
Last time out they ran another good top three finish when third to Vatuvei, another Queen Elizabeth hopeful that missed out on a Melbourne Cup call-up, in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on Cox Plate Day.
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds are currently led by sensational, eight-length Bendigo Cup winner Puissance De Lune ($2.90).
Further down the betting markets punters will find the John Singleton-owned Ironstein who is only rated a $17 chance in a hot field, Singo after another big win after taking out Thursday’s Crown Oaks with Dear Demi.
While hopeful of a successful title defense Ryan knows that the French-trained Shahwardi, prepared by 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain’s trainer Alain de Royer Dupre, will be hard to beat.
“The horse that won the Herbert Power is going to be awfully hard to beat in whatever he runs in,” Ryan said.
“But my horse is fit and well and happy. He’s had five runs back, he cops a bit of racing.
“I’m happy with how he’s going.
“He’s been in the best form of his career, I reckon.
“Without winning, he’s carrying more weight than he was carrying last year and he’s running in better races and he’s running well.”
If you fancy Ironstein to go back-to-back in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes make sure you lock them in at the best price online with bookmaker.com.au – home of the Pick Your Own Odds markets on all the Flemington races this weekend.