Steel Zip faces an uphill battle to score consecutive wins in the Keith Noud Handicap.
That’s the candid assessment of trainer Pat Duff who concedes Better Than Ready has a class edge on his rivals at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
“I just don’t think he’s got the class to beat the topweight (Better Than Ready) … he’s such a good horse,” Duff said.
“With a bit of luck our bloke will be right around the placegetters.”
Steel Zip is rated at $16 and, if successful, will cement his reputation as a giant killer after winning the 1200m Listed race last year at $11 from Golden Slipper winner Phelan Ready.
Duff was pleased with Steel Zip’s effort to finish third, beaten 4-1/2 lengths, to Better Than Ready at Eagle Farm on November 9 when he was ridden by Justin Stanley who retains the ride on Saturday.
“He could have halved the margin had he not copped interference coming out of the barriers,” he said.
“He got creamed and was cut in half and Justin said he was never on the bit for the entire 1000 metres yet he was finishing stronger than anything at the end of the race.
“About 50 yards past the post he was up with the first and second horses.”
Duff is hoping for some rain from predicted showers and storms on Friday and Saturday to provide Steel Zip with his preferred racing surface.
“As it stands now the track is going to be made to order for him and if we get a bit more rain to soften it then it’s all the better,” he said.
After the Noud, Steel Zip will be aimed at the Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on December 21.
Duff said Steel Zip’s main goal this campaign was the Bernborough Handicap (1625m) at Toowoomba on New Year’s Eve.
Phelan Ready, winner of the 2009 Golden Slipper, will be trained for the Noud by Doug Roberts before he returns to Jason McLachlan’s care on Monday.
Racing Queensland has reinstated McLachlan’s training licence after it was suspended on October 4 to enable him to deal with personal issues.