Trainer Pat Duff is confident his decision to avoid the recent hot weather with veteran sprinter Steel Zip can reap its reward this autumn.
Steel Zip returns from a freshen-up in the Open Hcp (1110m) at Doomben on Saturday with his campaign target the Weetwood Handicap next month.
The nine-year-old gelding ran in his 50th feature race – 46 stakes and four Magic Millions events – when fourth to Sir Moments in the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup on January 28.
Duff said it had not been an easy decision to ease up on Steel Zip after the Sunshine Coast run because the gelding had been in such good form.
“I did enter him a couple of times but then didn’t accept because I didn’t want to knock him about under big weights in the heat,” Duff said.
“Steel Zip has freshened up nicely and has had his usual routine with beach work.
“He has his share of weight on Saturday but there is plenty of speed in the race and they won’t want to be sitting down in the final 200 metres. This old horse can turn in some very good races when fresh with the pace on.”
Duff has booked premier Brisbane jockey Jeff Lloyd for the ride and he hopes he can help the gelding overcome a wide barrier.
“Jeff has won on Steel Zip and knows the horse. After this it will be on to the Weetwood (on April 8),” Duff said.
Steel Zip has had one start in the Listed Weetwood, regarded as the premier Queensland provincial sprint, for a third in 2014 to Typhoon Red.
Duff trained in Toowoomba for many years and won a Weetwood with Ima Cheetah in 1980.
This year’s Weetwood is expected to attract a top quality field because it is a Saturday metropolitan class race and several trainers have indicated they will use it to launch winter carnival campaigns for their horses.
“Steel Zip is going well and I can’t think of a better horse to do it with than Steel Zip. The only time he ran in Toowoomba was on the cushion track and this years race will be on grass,” Duff said.
“It depends what else is going up there but from what I hear he probably won’t get a huge weight.”