Trainer Pat Duff has drawn favourable comparisons between Steel Zip and his million dollar earner Hard To Catch ahead of the gelding’s crucial test for a trip interstate at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Steel Zip will be striving to win for the first time over 1600 metres at his fourth attempt in the Listed Tattersall’s Member’s Cup.
The son of Canadian Silver won the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup (1400m) at Caloundra on February 5 before his last start second to Lucky Luna over 1600 metres at Doomben.
Duff won’t confirm a trip south for the Group Three Newmarket Handicap (1400m) at Newcastle on March 21 until he sees how Steel Zip pulls up after the Tattersall’s Member’s Cup.
“This will be his eighth run this campaign and he could be nearing a break,” Duff said.
“If he runs well I’d like to take him down for the Newmarket but if he doesn’t I’ll freshen him up and get him ready for the winter carnival.”
Duff believes Steel Zip would prove a strong lightweight hope in the Group One Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June.
Duff has never won the $1 million feature but went close when Hard To Catch was runner-up to Mr Baritone in 2008.
Hard To Catch ended his career with 13 wins and 16 placings from 77 starts with earnings of $1.17 million.
“The Stradbroke would be a nice race for him in the winter and I nearly won it with Hard To Catch,” Duff said.
“There’s very little between Hard To Catch and Steel Zip and they’re just about on par.
“Steel Zip has a little more to do yet but he’s well on the way.”
Duff believes Steel Zip is weighted to win against a strong field which includes interstate invader Star Of Octagonal and in-form locals Lucky Luna and Tomboy who is in contention for a trip to Sydney for the Group One Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 24.
“If you study the weights they have fallen our way and Steel Zip is handicapped to win,” Duff said.
“He’s meeting Lucky Luna four and half kilos better for getting beaten one length by him last start.
“But sometimes races don’t work out like that and it’s a hard race.
“Star of Octagonal looked like being a very promising horse early in his career and he’s now racing well again.
“Tomboy also is a very talented mare but she’s got 55 kilograms and thirteen alley.
“There’s only one kilo between us and Tomboy so I’m expecting my bloke to run very well.”