It took a millionaire owner to repel the internationals in the Melbourne Cup and it might take another to do the same in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Lloyd Williams, who built Melbourne’s Crown casino in the early 1990s, kept the Cup in Australia when his stayer Green Moon won on Tuesday.
It will be adman John Singleton’s turn at Flemington on Saturday when Ironstein takes on a handy field headed by two overseas runners who missed the Melbourne Cup cut.
Godolphin’s Lost In The Moment and Americain’s Alain de Royer Dupre-trained stablemate Shahwardi look formidable opponents in the 2600m feature.
While Lost In The Moment will be making his local debut, Shahwardi showed he has thrived since coming to Australia with a devastating win in the Herbert Power Stakes last month.
Gerald Ryan, who trains Ironstein for Singleton, rates the French stayer as the horse to beat.
“The horse that won the Herbert Power is going to be awfully hard to beat in whatever he runs in,” Ryan said.
“But my horse is fit and well and happy. He’s had five runs back, he cops a bit of racing.
“I’m happy with how he’s going.”
Ironstein narrowly missed a berth in last year’s Melbourne Cup before winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
He again missed out on a Cup run this year and again finds himself running at Flemington four days later.
Ryan believes Ironstein is in even better shape this year, even though he hasn’t posted a victory since last year’s race.
“He’s been in the best form of his career, I reckon,” Ryan said.
“Without winning, he’s carrying more weight than he was carrying last year and he’s running in better races and he’s running well.”
The Queen Elizabeth carries a prizemoney purse of $250,000, along with a $100,000 bonus if the winning horse was paid up for the Melbourne Cup but did not gain a run.
Singleton will be chasing his second feature race win at Flemington in the space of three days after claiming Thursday’s Victoria Oaks with Dear Demi.