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Debate continues about whether it is too hard for the locals to get into the Melbourne Cup compared to the internationals, but last year it almost proved too easy for Ironstein.

He narrowly missed out on a start in the race with trainer Gerald Ryan leaving him in the nominations as protection against a sudden upsurge in form and to maintain his eligibility for a $100,000 bonus to the winner of the Queen Elizabeth (2600m) four days later.

Ironstein winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 2) at Flemington - photo by Race Horse Photos Australia

Ryan knows if Ironstein had made the field, part-owner John Singleton would have run him, but the trainer had the Group Three feature as his target.

“Ironstein only missed by two spots getting into the Cup,” Ryan said.

“I didn’t think he was ready for that race.”

Like many of the progeny of Zabeel, Ironstein was a slow maturer and begins his path towards a possible start in this year’s Cup in a 1500m Benchmark 95 race at Rosehill on Saturday.

“Adam Hyeronimus will take two kilos off his weight (60.5kg),” Ryan said,

“The race is a starting point and probably too short.

“We’ll get a better idea when he gets up around 1800 to 2000 metres.”

Ironstein was given 51kg in last year’s Melbourne Cup and won’t be pushed into any of the Group One exempt races.

“The plan is to go to the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley and then maybe the Cranbourne Cup, the Moonee Valley Cup and the Queen Elizabeth again.

“He will be entered for the Melbourne Cup and if he can get his rating up, then I’m sure the owners would want to go there.”

Ironstein is now a dual Group Three and dual Listed winner with a creditable fourth to his name in last year’s Metropolitan, his only Group One start.

He is out of the Singleton-owned mare Gentle Genius who won up to 2000 metres but is perhaps best remembered for running Sunline to a neck in the 2002 Coolmore Classic (1500m).

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