Pat Duff has both Steel Zip and Abu Ben Adam in the 2014 Brisbane Handicap field and the veteran trainer is happy with the condition of both horses heading into the Listed event this weekend.
Steel Zip has not recorded a race win since he took out the Brisbane Fire Protection Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on March, but he has been a consistent performer at Group and Listed level in the past 12 months.
The Canadian Silver gelding made a slow start to his summer preparation, but he returned to a semblance of his best form with a fourth place finish behind Sir Moments in the Super Starfish Handicap (1400m) at the Gold Coast on and Duff told Racing Queensland that the performance of the seven-year-old was better than it looked on paper when he finished sixth in the Listed Recognition Stakes (1630m) at Doomben on November 29.
“At this level I’d have to favour Steel Zip and Abu Ben Adam is not favoured by his barrier draw,” Duff said.
“Steel Zip’s run last start was the first time he had gone to 1600 metres this campaign and he’s won twice of the mile and has barrier one.
“It was a red hot field he was up against in the Recognition.
“I was thinking about taking him to Melbourne for that greys races last month but he wasn’t quite ready.
“He’s had a few feet issues all his life but we’re on top of that now and his work this week has been super.
“He’s right on song.”
Abu Ben Adam was making his debut at Listed level in the Recognition Stakes, after recording two straight wins at Doomben and the Gold Coast at the start of November, and he was taken to the lead in the early stages of the race by jockey Jim Byrne before he tired in the last 150 metres to finish tenth.
Duff did not fault Byrne for pushing forward on Abu Ben Adam in the Recognition Stakes, but he revealed that he would like to see the Murtajill gelding ridden quieter in the Brisbane Handicap this weekend.
“Jimmy had no choice but to go forward when he was caught deep,” Duff said.
“There doesn’t look like there’s a lot of speed in this race again and I’d prefer him to be ridden off the speed like he’s done in two of his last three starts.”
Steel Zip is currently available at 2014 Brisbane Handicap odds of $14, while Abu Ben Adam is priced at a quote of $26 to record his maiden win at Listed level.