Veteran stayer Ironstein is likely to have only three more starts in his racing career and he will begin his retirement tour when he starts as one of the favourites in the 2014 Ipswich Cup tomorrow.
Trainer Gerald Ryan confirmed earlier in the week that Ironstein would take his place in the Ipswich Cup field and the popular galloper has been the best-backed runner in the betting market for the Listed event.
Ironstein has performed well in three race starts since returning to the races in April, including a tough fourth in the Eremein Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on May 31, and Ryan told Racing Ahead this morning that he is expecting another credible performance from the Zabeel gelding in the Ipswich Cup this weekend.
“It should suit him and there looks to be good speed in the race,” Ryan said.
“He has done well and he has come on.
“He has taken a little bit longer to come up as an eight-year-old, but his run the other day was full of merit and he probably just peaked 150 metres out and he kept grinding away to the line.
“He has improved off it and he worked well here at Rosehill on Tuesday morning and he travelled up on Wednesday night.
“He is another one that has been up and down the Eastern seaboard and it doesn’t seem to worry him.
“He has settled in really well and they said that he was pretty bright and well this morning.”
Ironstein has had 61 race starts in his outstanding racing career that began at Cranbourne back in 2008 and Ryan confirmed that the rising nine-year-old is set to be retired at the end of the racing season.
Ryan said that Ironstein would have his final race start in Sydney in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on June 28 before ending his career in the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 10.
“He will probably come back to Rosehill and run in the Winter Cup here in a fortnight and then he will go to Grafton,” Ryan said.
“It has always been his plan, if he was holding up and running alright, to go to Grafton and run in the Grafton Cup and then be retired.
“He will be a nine-year-old shortly and he has been a terrific horse for us.
“He has won over $1 million and he didn’t win a race until he was a four-year-old.
“He can be tricky at times, he hasn’t won since 2011, but he has won a lot of stakes money in the meantime.”
Ironstein is chasing his first race win since he scored an impressive two and a half lengths victory over Shootoff, Paddy O’Reilly and Bauer in the 2011 edition of the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m).