Trainer Pat Duff is not ruling out an upset win by his veteran sprinter Steel Zip in Saturday’s Group 3 $175,000 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) at Doomben.
The nine year old has been marked as one of the outsiders of the W.J. Healy Stakes field at $81 with Ladbrokes.com.au but Duff wouldn’t be surprised if the lightly weighted grey could produce something special with only 54.5kg on his back.
“He gets into the Healy with a nice weight (54.5kg) and he does go well around Doomben. I know he is a big price but don’t rule him out,” Duff told AAP.
Steel Zip has two lead up runs heading into the W.J. Healy Stakes for an eighth in the Listed $150,000 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Handicap (1200m) at Toowoomba on April 8 followed by a sixth, beaten one and three quarter lengths, in a 1350m Open Handicap at Doomben on April 15.
Steep Zip has drawn around the middle of the sixteen horse field at barrier nine and Duff has engaged leading claiming apprentice Tiffani Brooker to ride the veteran sprinter in the non-claiming Quality Handicap.
“I think Tiffani is riding as good as any jockey in Australia at the moment, male or female,” Duff said.
“She is using her head in her rides and she is very strong at the finish.
“I haven’t really had a horse for her to ride in a big race before but I had always planned to use her at some stage.”
Steel Zip is the winner of eleven races from eight-one starts but hasn’t been in the winner’s circle for eighteen months since his victory in the Listed $100,000 Keith Noud Handicap (1200m) at Doomben in November 2015.
The nine year old has only been placed three times from eleven starts in the last twelve months and would have to find his best form from a couple of seasons ago to mix it with the more fancied runners.
The Gerald Ryan trained last start winner Deploy is the solid favourite at $3.80 for the W.J. Healy Stakes and will meet the top weight Dothraki, $6.50, again after the pair ran the quinella in the Group 2 $175,000 Ascot Green Moreton Cup (1200m) at Doomben on June 3.