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New Zealand Racing News
Wednesday, May 24 2017

A heavy 8 Eagle Farm track adds an element of unease for Wanganui trainers Evan and J.J. Rayner ahead of Group One winner Start Wondering's tilt at Saturday's Gr.1 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m).

Start Wondering  - Kenton Wright Race Images

But J.J. Rayner regards the race as a means to an end and says if Start Wondering copes with conditions, his rivals might get a glimpse of a horse they believe has genuine claims on next month's blue-riband Stradbroke Handicap.

"A couple of days after the Doomben 10,000, we started thinking it was a better decision to start in this race rather than wait four weeks to go straight into the Stradbroke," Rayner said.

"With the rain about, we thought it's going to be a more testing race and we have to get another run into him. If it happens to rain again here before Saturday and it gets too wet, we can pull him out and go straight in but we'd like to get this run into him first if we can.

"We're not too sure what to make of the Eagle Farm track. The locals are telling us it's going to be pretty hard work, but everything has to go around on the same track so we're all in the same boat. He has handled it a little wet before, but we'd preferred it better."

Rayner said Start Wondering, who claimed the Railway Stakes-NRM Sprint Group One double in New Zealand over summer, had thrived since his fresh-up run for sixth in the Gr.1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) a fortnight ago.

"He had a good blow after his run at Doomben the other day. He hadn't raced in nearly three months and he's definitely come on with the run. We thought it was a good run, considering the [soft] track wasn't too much to his liking.

"He's very, very well going into this one. He's had an easy 1000m this morning and I'm just out giving him a pick of grass now and he's pretty chilled out.

"He's drawn out a bit in barrier 12, but the locals are saying drawing out at Eagle Farm is probably better than [drawing] in. He should be right there, as long as he can cope with track conditions.

"We think he'll measure up but he'll have to show something pretty good to press on to the Stradbroke. If he finished down the track, we'd have to reassess that."

Regular rider Johnathon Parkes retains the mount on Saturday.

TAB bookmakers have Start Wondering listed at $21 in a market headed by Black Heart Bart at $3.30.

The Stephen and Joanne Gudsell-owned Start Wondering is also at $21 for the $A1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 10.

Posted by: AT 06:56 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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