WARRNAMBOOL trainer Patrick Ryan hopes a win on the flat will provide I’ll’ava’alf with the perfect preparation for the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
I’ll’ava’half finished strongly to snare a 2350-metre BM78 race on the opening day of the May Racing Carnival on Tuesday.
Hoop Georgina Cartwright rode the New Zealand-bred galloper – an $11 chance – wide in the run to win from Just Junior ($9.70) and $23 outsider Hello My Dear, out of the Symon Wilde stable.
Ryan said the decision to run I’ll’ava’alf on the flat was made with the carnival’s main feature in mind.
“I decided to go against the Brierly because I thought maybe it might pull too much out of him,” he said.
“We went to Von Doussa full of hope and he got a bad virus over there and was on antibiotics.
“He missed a week’s work when we came back and it was all a bit of a hurry.
“I said to the guys ‘we really need to give him something Tuesday’ and my gut feeling is when he is fresh and toey he can run a real race.
“Last year he ran second in the same race and was a bit unlucky.
“Hopefully that really takes the edge off him for Thursday.
“It follows the same path when he won the Crisp, he won two days earlier.”
Ryan said a Grand Annual victory would be a career highlight.
“I’ve won a Warrnambool Cup and to win a Grand Annual would be amazing,” he said.
“When you only have a couple of horses in work and it’d be a great effort.
“I got brought up in Warrnambool and the May races in a racing family is the pinnacle.”