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Trainer Gerald Ryan is taking a couple of steps into the unknown with Ironstein at Sandown on Saturday.

But he is doing it with confidence in his horse and with trust in the form of another who is shaping as the most exciting prospect in the country.

Ironstein runs in the Listed Sandown Cup in what will be his first venture beyond 2600m and a race which could take his racetrack earnings beyond $1 million.

Of greater concern to Ryan though, is the short break between his second placing to Puissance De Lune in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington last weekend and Saturday’s race.

“He’s come through last weekend’s race in terrific order and done very well,” Ryan said.

“The question is how he’ll go on the seven-day back-up.

“I’m not certain how he’ll go with it.”

As for the 3200m, Ryan takes heart from Ironstein’s Queen Elizabeth effort in which he did best of the chasing bunch behind Puissance De Lune.

“He ran his heart out on Saturday and was beaten by a horse that might be a freak,” Ryan said.

The trainer pointed out that no other horse made ground on Ironstein over the final 400m and there is no horse in Saturday’s race with superior form.

Ironstein hasn’t finished further back than fifth in his six runs this time in and produced his best effort – even though beaten five lengths – at his last start

“He’s racing in the best form of his career,” Ryan said.

“Even though he’s not winning he’s carrying four and five kilos more than he was last year and he’s coping with it well.”

Ironstein is one of four runners for Ryan at Sandown with the best of the rest likely to be Angel Of Mercy in the Listed Summoned Stakes (1500m).

At her last start Angel Of Mercy drew barrier 16 over 1400m at Flemington, possibly the worst start in Australia at which to be drawn wide, and finished fourth to Koonoomoo.

Before that she had barrier 12 at Randwick when sixth to Quidnunc over 1200m.

On Saturday she has barrier two, blinkers and will be having her third run from a spell.

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