Ironstein’s 2012 campaign will look nothing like the 2011 program that saw him race just about every other weekend somewhere around the country.
Instead trainer Gerald Ryan is focussing everything on having him right for the Melbourne spring where as a seven year old he will finally be deemed mature enough.
It seems like a strange call but based on both pedigree and racing experience Ryan is content to have played it this way.
The Zabeel gelding may have raced 19 times in 12 months last preparation that has only taken his overall number of career starts to 34.
It was all about picking up prize money wherever they could and getting some much needed miles into his legs.
He finished off his preparation in the best possible style, winning the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth over 2600m in November ahead of the odds on favourite and 2009 Melbourne Cup runner up Bauer.
That proved to Ryan he’s now ready to be stepped up to the next level and part of that will involve more efficient scheduling.
In fact it could be so efficient that the first time we see Ironstein in 2012 may be the Group 1 Doncaster Mile.
“He came back last Thursday and looks sensational,” Ryan said.
“The plan could be to go to the Doncaster Prelude and then two or three races in Queensland.
“Or he could go first-up into the Doncaster.
“He goes so well first-up and would get into the race with a light weight so it is an option.”
Ironstein was successful at stakes level in Brisbane last winter and they’ll be looking to replicate that in 2012.
“In Queensland we are looking at races like the Hollindale Stakes, the Doomben Cup and the O’Shea Stakes,” he said.
“It won’t be like last year when we hammered him.”
In the end though it’s all about the Melbourne spring and that first Tuesday in November.
“The Queen Elizabeth qualified him for the Melbourne Cup so that won’t be a worry,” he said.
In 2011 Ryan wasn’t even trying to get the horse into the Melbourne Cup field but his consistent record almost caused the mother of all dilemmas.
“I got a bit worried when he moved up to number 26 for the Cup and I thought he might get a start and I didn’t want him to,” Ryan said.
“I didn’t think he was mature enough for 3200 metres and the Queen Elizabeth was the plan.”