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 Australian Racing News 
Wednesday, April 12 2017

Trainer Patrick Ryan believes an Oakbank dress rehearsal has stable star I'll'ava'alf well placed to deliver him another feature jumps victory in Saturday's Von Doussa Steeplechase (3250m).

Last year's Crisp Steeplechase winner was given his first look at the unique Oakbank course in an Open Steeplechase (3250m) on 2 April in which he ran an encouraging second to defending Von Doussa champion Nishiazabu.

Ryan said the eight-year-old had made the desired progression since that run to feature in the finish of Saturday's $100,000 feature.

"I couldn't be happier with the way he's going, he looks a treat and the progression in his lead-up races has been ideal," Ryan said.

"He normally takes a little while to get over runs but he got over his last start really quickly.

"We were pretty happy with the way he finished the race off and if he didn't get interfered with by the fallen horse he probably could've won it so we're hoping that everything goes our way and we can go one better."

Unlike several of his Von Doussa rivals - including Nishiazabu, 2013 winner Lord Of The Song and Patrick Payne's last-start Warrnambool winner Zed Em - the son of Lucky Unicorn will not back-up to contest Monday's $160,000 Great Eastern Steeplechase (4950m).

Instead, Ryan said I'll'ava'half would be saved for next month's May Racing Carnival at Warrnambool, where he will tackle the $300,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m), potentially via the Brierlry Steeplechase (3450m) two days earlier.

"I think he's come back a better horse," he said.

"Our main goal is the Grand Annual and we are just wary that there's only a short gap between Oakbank and Warrnambool so we didn't want to bite off more than we could chew.

"I'd be confident Saturday that he'll run super and improve again into the Grand Annual."

The Von Dousa Steeplechase is the feature jumps event on Saturday's nine-race program that also includes the Listed Oakbank Stakes (1100m) and the $50,000 Oakbank Cup (2150m).

Posted by: AAP AT 05:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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