Warhorse Brisbane galloper Steel Zip may be a rising nine-year-old but trainer Pat Duff believes the veteran still has enough zest for racing to be competitive in Saturday’s Tattersall’s Mile 2016.
The Canadian Silver gelding is a gallant old grey lining-up at Doomben Racecourse for the 28th time for the weekend’s $100,000 Listed Tattersall’s Mile Handicap (1600m).
To date Steel Zip, who has had 73 career starts in total, has won six of those previous runs at the Doomben track where he hasn’t raced since early February.
His form this time in has been very hard to knock however with three runs in the top four in as many starts across the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival.
First-up he finished third to Ninth Legion in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich, the form of which was franked in Sydney with the winner also taking out the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m) and running third to Oxford Poet in last Saturday’s Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.
Steel Zip then finished a close fourth behind fellow Tattersall’s Mile hopeful and early favourite in betting for the rematch Flamboyer in the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at the Sunshine Coast.
His latest start was in New South Wales on July 13 at Grafton for a blanket-finish third beaten just a half-length by the winner Smart Volatility in the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m).
Despite this gun lead-up form, Steel Zip does have a few notable hurdles to overcome on the weekend when he returns to Brisbane and as such pays $12 through Ladbrokes.com.au in the latest Tattersall’s Mile odds.
He carries the 59kg top weight for one in the form of jockey Brad Stewart, who retains the ride after the Ramornie run, which is a rise from 55.5kg last start.
Steel Zip also had a lovely run at Grafton from the inside alley, but will jump wide from gate nine of 11 in the Tattersall’s Mile.
The distance could also be an issue, he sees the 1600m for the first time since February of 2015 and has won just one from eight starts over these metres.
All of that aside and his Deagon-based trainer Duff is still positive, happy with where the horse is at and happy with post-Ramornie comments from Stewart.
“Obviously with older horses you always take them as a day by day proposition. But he shows me no signs that he has lost his zest for racing,” Duff told the media this week.
“Brad Stewart rode him for the first time in a while in the Ramornie and was amazed with him. He told me Steel Zip felt no different to ride than when he was a four-year-old.”
Duff also believes the mile is not outside of Steel Zip’s reach based on his recent runs.
If anything this campaign he has been going better than usual,” he said.
“He has won at the Doomben 1600 metres. Probably one of his best runs was a fifth in the Queensland Guineas which he possibly should have won.
“I know that was a fair while ago but he has usually raced well at 1600 even if he doesn’t win. He has had a solid build-up in trials and races.”
The only thing Duff is having a hard time filing away worry over is the weight.
“His weights have been going up and down like a yoyo. He had 55.5kg in the Ramornie and 56 in the Glasshouse now he has 59,” he said.
“But my father once told me when you are confused about the weights look for the one who looks slaughtered as it usually wins. Hopefully, that will be the case on Saturday.”
A bargain buy as a yearling, Duff said it had been a fairy tale for himself and other connections with Steel Zip amassing over $915,000 in career prize money to date.
“Steel Zip cost us only $13,000 as a yearling and has now won $915,000. But more than that he has given us a lot of pleasure,” he said.
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