James McDonald will be hoping for a quick return...
Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) in Sydney may be just the second Group 1 assignment for eight-year-old Ironstein, but their trainer Gerald Ryan is confident the old warhorse can bring some stiff competition to his better fancied rivals.
The official field is yet to be released for The Metropolitan 2013, final acceptances due out on Wednesday, but Ryan has confirmed he will be running his Zabeel gelding Ironstein.
In the current futures markets on the Epsom Handicap Day classic Ironstein is rated a $51 outsider for an upset The Metropolitan result.
Odds are led by last start Kingston Town Stakes winner Prince Cheri and the Chris Waller-trained Moriarty both under $5.
Ironstein is a better chance than their price suggests though according to Ryan who liked what he saw from the galloper last start on September 21.
Racing in their best form in two years, the horse was under two lengths away fifth to Moriarty in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick for their The Metropolitan lead-up.
They were also very competitive the run before when beaten only a long neck by Less Is More in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1800m) at Rosehill in late August.
“He’s going terrific and his runs back from a spell have been really good,” Ryan said according to sportsnews.com.au.
It’s been a long time between drinks for Ironstein with their last win being the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington during the 2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival.
They also ran in that year’s The Metropolitan when a good fourth behind the Waller-trained The Verminator which is their sole elite level start to date.
Missing last year’s edition going to Melbourne earlier instead for a shot at the staying features there, this spring Ryan has kept Ironstein home a little longer hoping to cash in on their nice recent form.
“He didn’t have a lot of luck when he finished fourth two years ago (in this),” Ryan said.
“He goes there this time with no weight on his back and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Ironstein has the same 52kg minimum they carried back in 2011 and will be ridden by his Queen Elizabeth Stakes winning jockey Brenton Avdulla who has partnered them for their last two runs.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the field and betting updates on the weekend races.
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