A crack at a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption in the revamped Andrew Ramsden Stakes looms for Steel Prince so long as the lightly raced import can perform to expectations again in a lead-up staying race at Flemington.
Steel Prince steps up to 2600m for the first time this preparation in Saturday’s Brew Handicap when he bids to continue his unbeaten campaign.
The five-year-old Irish import, who has won six of his 16 starts with another six placings, did his earlier Australian racing with the Darren Weir stable before Weir was disqualified earlier this year.
Steel Prince was then sent to trainer Anthony Freedman and in three starts this preparation for his new stable the gelding has strung together wins over 1800m at Sandown, 2000m at Mornington and 2425m at Caulfield to continue rising through the grades.
He has been installed the odds-on favourite for Saturday’s race which is three weeks before the Listed Andrew Ramsden (2800m) at the same track.
The Andrew Ramsden is now restricted to three, four and five-year-olds at weight-for-age with the winner to earn a ballot exemption into this spring’s Melbourne Cup.
“That’s where he will go providing he runs well on Saturday and we’ve got no reason to think he won’t,” Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor said.
“His work on Tuesday morning was as good as any. He has drawn a nice barrier, Michael Poy knows him well now and his three kilo claim takes him down to 54 kilos. It’s all positive signs.
“He is a really honest galloper who gives 100 per cent in everything he does.
“I think he will really enjoy the 2600 metres.
The field of 12 for Saturday’s race includes lightly raced last-start Adelaide Cup winner Surprise Baby who has top weight of 60kg.
Trainer Paul Preusker is also targeting four-year-old Surprise Baby, winner of four of his six starts, at the Andrew Ramsden to try to secure the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.