Ipswich Cup bid for Bachelor Zeel


Bachelor Zeel on target for an improver's run in the Ipswich Cup. (Photo: NZ Racing Desk).

Bachelor Zeel on target for an improver’s run in the Ipswich Cup. (Photo: NZ Racing Desk).

It has been a series of setbacks for Bachelor Zeel in the last two years but Cambridge trainer Frank Ritchie believes it’s now time for his promising stayer to shine.

The two-win Bachelor Duke gelding will tackle Saturday’s Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on the 54kg minimum with Jason Taylor booked to ride from barrier three.

It would be something of a timely win for Ritchie after today bidding farewell to his champion galloper Bonecrusher, who died in Auckland aged 32.

Bachelor Zeel’s last win was at Te Rapa in Rating 65 company in October 2013, but he has always promised plenty as a stayer and Ritchie has adopted a patient approach as he has allowed the five-year-old to mature and recover from shoulder and knee problems.

After almost a year on the sideline, Bachelor Zeel returned with an encouraging eighth placing at Te Rapa prompting Ritchie and owners Craig Norgate, Mike Gibson, Michael Stiassny and Brook Catley Sipos to consider their options in Queensland.

“It was a terrific race for a horse who was off the scene for nearly a year and he’d improved a lot with that,” said Ritchie. “He can handle off ground but not heavy ground so he was going to be really hard to place at home and the owners were keen to get him to Brisbane.”

However, that didn’t mean Bachelor Zeel’s problems were well behind him.

His direct flight to Brisbane was cancelled and in order for Ritchie to get him to the Sunshine Coast in time for a suitable Ipswich Cup lead-up race, the horse flew to Sydney before a 13-hour float ride north.

“By the time he got to Brisbane, he was jaded and he just blew out in that race,” said Ritchie. “He hadn’t had a gallop for a week beforehand.”

Ritchie is sure Bachelor Zeel’s seventh in that 1800-metre class five race has served its purpose and improved his stayer’s fitness for this weekend’s feature.

“I really needed to run him in that to condition him for what was ahead,” said Ritchie. “We’ve got him up and running now. He’s in the Ipswich Cup on the minimum and it’s probably not the strongest running of this race we’ve seen.

“I still don’t believe Ipswich is his track and I believe he needs 2400 metres to be competitive at this level.”

Ritchie has his sights set on Saturday week’s Gr. 3 Tatt’s Cup (2400m) on the Gold Coast for Bachelor Zeel, hopeful the stayer can sneak into that field.

“He’ll be far better suited by a mile and a half at the Gold Coast from the minimum the following week,” said Ritchie, who will also consider the Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) for Bachelor Zeel at the Sunshine Coast on July 4.

– NZ Racing Desk