The lure of a free ticket into the Melbourne Cup has next month’s revamped Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington looming as an enticing option for connections of progressive stayer Steel Prince.
Formerly run over 3200m, officials have switched the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes to 2800m this year and restricted it to three, four and five-year-olds at set weights.
The winner will earn a ballot exemption into the 2019 Melbourne Cup in the spring.
An Irish import who did his initial Australian racing with now-disqualified trainer Darren Weir, Steel Prince’s victory at Caulfield on Saturday has made it three wins from as many starts since he joined trainer Anthony Freedman.
Ridden by apprentice Michael Poy, five-year-old Steel Prince ($1.90) strode clear in the straight to win Saturday’s Grunt Standing @ Yulong Handicap (2425m) by 3-3/4-lengths, his first open handicap success and sixth win from 16 career starts.
“The horse loves this sort of trip and his first two wins for us were probably over unsuitable trips and Mornington probably didn’t really suit him either last start but he still got the job done,” Freedman said.
“His record shows he’s so reliable and so genuine. If he’s fit and well his form says he runs very well.”
If connections decide to head to the Andrew Ramsden, Freedman said Steel Prince would likely have one more start before the May 25 race.
“But he would not need two,” the trainer said.
“These European horses, I think the more you run them the more dour they get.
“But he would also have to improve. He had no weight today and these aren’t Ramsden horses.”
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