Patrick Ryan is hoping victory in a flat race is the perfect pipe-opener for a bigger prize at Warrnambool.
The Ryan-trained I’ll’ava’alf took out the Cally Hotel Handicap (2350m) on the opening day of Warrnambool’s three-day carnival and will return on the final day for the feature, the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Ryan has previously run I’ll’ava’alf on the flat before a feature steeplechase.
Three days before winning the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown last August, the gelding ran in a flat race at Warrnambool, finishing just out of the placings.
“We went to the Von Doussa (at Oakbank) full of hope but he got a virus over there and was on antibiotics,” Ryan said.
“He missed a week’s work so it was all a bit of a hurry and I said to the guys we really need to give him something on Tuesday.
“My gut feeling was as he was fresh and toey he could run a real race today and last year he ran second in the same race and was a bit unlucky.
“Hopefully that will take the edge off him for Thursday.”
Ryan said to win a Grand Annual while having only two horses in work would be amazing.
“Coming from a racing family and being brought up in Warrnambool, to win races at this carnival is the pinnacle,” he said.