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Veteran grey Steel Zip got shuffled back at Grafton in the Clarence River Jockey Club’s premier sprint last winter but trainer Pat Duff believes the galloper can get home in the Ramornie Handicap 2017 this afternoon.
Twelve months ago Duff’s Brisbane-trained son of Canadian Silver had to settle for third behind Smart Volatility (1st) and Big Money (2nd) after a luckless run in the $160,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton Racecourse.
The evergreen galloper was only a half-length beaten and is after atonement when he lines-up in the Ramornie Handicap field for the second time this afternoon on Day 1 of the Grafton Cup Carnival.
A rising 10-year-old, Steel Zip was last seen running four lengths back seventh behind Burning Passion at Doomben on June 24 in the Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) when making up ground in the closing stages of the winter carnival feature.
Duff was happy with that lead-up run into the Ramornie, which was better than it looks on paper, and believes his stable’s ‘old boy’ still has more wins in him.
“I believe these older horses let you know when they’ve had enough and it’s time to retire, but that’s not the case yet with this horse,” Duff told Racing NSW.
“He’s enjoying his racing and is sound – he’ll let us know when it’s time for retirement but I still think there’s another good win in him before that happens.
“His run in the Healy was very good and [jockey] Jeff Lloyd, who rode him that day, was impressed with his effort and told me he was very keen to ride him if we progressed to the Ramornie.”
Lloyd will be there aboard Steel Zip in the Ramornie Handicap today from a gun barrier four draw, but the horse is only rated a $26 chance in the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Duff believes his runner a better chance than the Ramornie Handicap odds suggest, especially if the speed is on.
“On his trackwork and his Healy effort, I think this old horse is going just a well as he was this time last year when he ran so well in the Ramornie,” he said.
“He got shuffled back a bit last year from barrier one and didn’t have the best of luck but really hit the line well. The Ramornie is always a hard race to win, but I if the speed’s on and he should be getting home very hard.”
Steel Zip was a $13,000 bargain buy as a yearling from the 2009 Magic Millions Sales and over his 82 start career to date has amassed $944,500 in prize money.
“He’s been a tremendous horse over many seasons and it would be great if he can break through the million-dollar barrier before he finally retires. He’s done a great job for a horse who was very cheap at $13,000,” Duff, whose previous $1 million earners were Hard To Catch and Heart Of The Citi, said.
Peter & Paul Snowden’s in-form three-year-old Calanda has firmed into $4 favouritism in Ramornie Handicap betting followed by the easing James Cummings-trained Badajoz ($4.50) and Team Snowden’s gun mare Flippant ($5).
Check out the full markets and Grafton winter racing offers online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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