Start Wondering About Stradbroke Handicap 2017

This weekend in-form Kiwi Group 1 winner Start Wondering debuts down under in the Doomben 10,000 ahead of a possible tilt at the 2017 Stradbroke Handicap next month.

Start Wondering

Start Wondering needs to run well in the Doomben 10,000 to press onto a Stradbroke Handicap 2017 campaign next month. Photo: Steve Hart.

Prepared at Wanaganui by Evan & Jennifer Rayner, the Eighth Wonder six-year-old is one of the key chances for Saturday’s $700,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) in Brisbane.

Having his 20th career start and first on Aussie soil since May last year when prepared by Chris Waller, the consistent gelding races for the first time since his second to Kawi in the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) in late February at Otaki, a race that also featured last year’s ATC Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (3rd).

It followed a gun summer of runs for the sprinter – miler highlighted by his Group 1 victories in the Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and Te Rapa’s NRM Sprint (1400m) on February 11.

A first-up flyer, Start Wondering has posted four wins from six resuming runs to date and the 1200m of the Doomben 10,000 this year should be ideal for his return on Saturday.

Current Doomben 10,000 odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained colt Russian Revolution ($3.10) as the firm favourite despite his disappointing TJ Smith Stakes sixth last time out.

Start Wondering, drawn in barrier seven that has produced the past two Doomben 10,000 winners, is a little further down the markets at $13.

Boban ($17 in 2015) was the last double-figure winner of the race and jockey Johnathan Parkes is charged with riding Start Wondering at a similar price this year.

Parkes travels down under to continue his successful association on Start Wondering and has done his homework on the Doomben track ahead of Saturday’s Group 1.

“It’s his first time over here and he [Parkes] walked the Doomben track today and will again in the morning,” co-trainer Evan Rayner told the New Zealand Racing Desk on Friday.

“He’ll work it out. I’m happy to have him on. Why break a winning combination?”

Rayner is confident of a good showing fresh from Start Wondering this weekend with the horse having settled into Queensland well since arriving at his temporary Gold Coast base.

“He’s done very well since he’s been here,” Rayner said. “He has worked well and settled in. I couldn’t be happier with him.

“Whether he’s up to the Aussie sprinters we’ll find out on Saturday.”

If Start Wondering does prove he can handle the hot Aussie talent this weekend, Rayner confirmed the team would be tempted to target the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 10.

Start Wondering is already one of the best in pre-field Stradbroke Handicap odds paying $15 for the win with futures markets led by the Darren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart ($10).

“A start in the Stradbroke will depend on how he goes in this one and also on what weight he gets,” Rayner said.

“Black Heart Bart is nominated so he will bring us down in the weights. If we win on Saturday it’ll be interesting to see what weight he gets.

“He’ll run in the Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup next start after this and then we’ll decide on the Stradbroke.”

Formerly the BTC Cup run in place of this year’s Doomben 10,000, the Kingsford Smith-Cup is contested on May 27 this year at Eagle Farm over 1300m.

To back Start Wondering in the Doomben 10,000 this weekend and to access all the other upcoming Brisbane Group 1 racing odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au.

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