Pat Duff can vouch for the judgment of jockey Brad Stewart after Steel Zip’s surprise first-up win in the Keith Noud Handicap at Eagle Farm.
After Stewart rode Steel Zip ($11) in a Deagon barrier trial last month, he told Duff the grey was on target to make winning comeback in the Noud.
“Brad was adamant after the trial that whatever beat him in this race would win so he was proven right and it was certainly no surprise to me,” Duff said.
“He had form around horses of the calibre of Tiger Tees and Ready To Rip last time in and he’s always been capable of winning a race like this.”
Duff plans to keep Steel Zip fresh before his main goal, the Magic Millions Cup (1400m), at the Gold Coast on January 12.
“His next run will be in the second leg of the triple crown at Doomben in a few weeks,” Duff said.
“That will top him right off for the Magic Millions Cup. The 1400 metres at the Coast will suit him down to the ground.”
While the Millions is a lucrative short-term goal for Steel Zip, Duff has even more ambitious plans in store for the grey next year.
“The Stradbroke is the race that I’ve always thought would suit him and that will be his goal during the winter,” Duff said.
“Like most of the Canadian Silver breed he’s been a slow-maturing horse but I feel this will be his campaign.”
Stewart believes Steel Zip can continue to improve campaign and believes the Millions is a realistic goal.
“He seemed to take a step in the right direction today and it’s on to better things,” Stewart said.
Phelan Ready hasn’t won a race for three years but trainer Jason McLachlan and jockey Damian Browne believe the gelding is not far off another win.
Jeff Lloyd was satisfied with the effort of Audacious Spirit who led the field into the straight before holding on to finish third.
“Being second-up from a spell he just knocked up the final 100 metres but I’m sure he’ll be better for the run,” Lloyd said.
AAP TURF sjr/