Ironstein's amazing turnaround
HE was once labelled the slowest horse to ever walk out of John Singleton’s famed Strawberry Hills Stud on the NSW Central Coast.
A slow coach, tortoise, destined to remain a maiden galloper.
Ironstein’s amazing turnaround in fortunes has been remarkable.
Under the genius of Rosehill trainer Gerald Ryan, the four-year-old gelding has not only shed his unwanted tag but developed into a genuine cup-winning stayer.
Today at Grafton the son of super sire Zabeel will aim for back to back cups in the $150,000 Elders Grafton Cup (2350m).
His last start win in the $200,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m) on July 3 emphasised the gelding’s rise.
And if Ryan and jockey Michael Cahill are right, Ironstein is headed further upwards, right to the top echelon.
The Caloundra-Grafton Cup plan was hatched some months prior to his current campaign.
Last year before Ironstein broke his maiden status under Ryan. The astute trainer rang advertising guru and owner-breeder Singleton, telling him he was confident of first up success in a 1550m maiden at Canterbury in October. The gelding had previously been trained in Melbourne.
“No way, you’re mad, he’s the slowest horse ever to walk out of Strawberry Hills,” Singleton quipped.
Singleton races the gelding with long-term friends Ian Burford, Murray McKeough and Andrew Margan among others.
The Canterbury win was followed by another success at Kembla Grange next start. The shackles were off, Ironstein was responding to Ryan’s methods.
This campaign, Ironstein continued to develop. The stock of New Zealand-based sire Zabeel notable for being late bloomers.
Dual wins over 1900m and 2000m at Rosehill, Ryan dodging the Ipswich Cup, were followed by his Caloundra Cup success.
Ryan’s main concern if any, is the additional 4kg Ironstein (57kg) must carry at the smaller, Grafton circuit.
“He’s done very well since the Caloundra Cup,” Ryan said. “Worked well last Monday in Queensland.
“He looks terrific. I’m never really one for weighing horses but six weeks ago he was 535kg. He’s 534 now after several runs. He’s doing well.
“He’s up 4kg but I guess that is due to his wins and the class of race (at Grafton).
“Larry Olsen (Sky Racing) rang Singo when they were parading before the Caloundra Cup and suggested Ironstein, compared to the other hardened stayers, looked like a baby. He’s still immature, but getting there.
“I’ve the same opinion as Michael (Cahill), he’s getting better with time and racing and by 2011 we might have a very good stayer on our hands looking at the big races. There’s still good improvement in him. His assets are he can take up a position and sprint quickly when necessary.”
Ryan nominated the John Morrisey-trained Teary Eyed, third in the Caloundra Cup, as Ironstein’s major rival.