Veteran sprinter Steel Zip will be lining up for his fourth attempt to win the Listed $175,000 City Of Ipswich Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich on Saturday.
Steel Zip has been well beaten at all three starts in 2012, 2013 and 2014 but trainer Pat Duff has the eight year old grey primed for a bold first up showing with three recent Deagon barrier trial wins under his belt.
Duff had Steel Zip ready to return to the races in the Group 2 $175,000 MIRVAC QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Queensland Oaks Day on June 4, but when that meeting was washed out, the QTC Cup was transferred to Stradbroke Handicap Day the following week.
Duff was still going to start the grey in the QTC Cup but when he drew wide decided to give him another barrier trial and run first up in the Eye Liner Stakes.
“I originally planned to go into the Eye Liner second-up. His first run back was supposed to be in the QTC Cup a fortnight ago but it was washed out,” Duff told Racing Queensland News.
“I thought about running him in the QTC Cup which was postponed to last Saturday but he drew bad and I was a little worried about how the track would play.”
“He’s very forward for this race and has had three barrier trials as well as two exhibition gallops at Ipswich.
“This is his fourth attempt but he’s never drawn an alley before but he’s got a good one this time with barrier two so hopefully my luck will change.”
Duff disclosed that the secret to keeping the eight year old focused is to put plenty of variety into his day to day routine and the grey spends a lot of time working out at the beach.
“He rarely goes to the track and does a lot of beach work to keep him mentally fresh,” Duff said.
Duff has been training in Queensland for over fifty years and is searching for his first Eye Liner Stakes trophy after being runner up with Cocktail Supreme in 2008.
“I’ve held my licence for more than 50 years but I haven’t had any luck in this race,” Duff said.
“I’ve had a few goes but the closest I’ve come was with Cocktail Supreme who ran second a few years ago.”
“It’s a race I’d love to win. When you think of Ipswich you think of the Kruger family who bred Eye Liner and ran Lyndhurst stud..
“I trained for the (late) Kruger brothers, Percy and Ted, when I first started training.”
Jeff Lloyd will be re-united with Steel Zip who has drawn barrier two in the thirteen horse field and should get a nice run just better than midfield from that good gate.
Steel Zip has firmed in the betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and is now a $9 chance for the Eye Liner Stakes after opening at $13 when the final field was released on Wednesday.
The Michael Lakey trained Trubia is a clear favourite at $3.20 and is coming off a last start eighth to Spill The Beans in last Saturday’s QTC Cup.
Eye Liner Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.20 Trubia, $7.50 Saluter, $9 Steel Zip, $9.50 Choice Bro, Timeless Prince, Pillar Of Creation, $10 Ninth Legion, $11 Beckham, Royal Occasion, $16 Time To Plunder, $31 Daph ‘N’ Alf, $41 Old Habits, $91 Abu Ben Adam.