A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
After an unplaced Doomben 10,000 run first-up in Brisbane a fortnight back the New Zealand-trained Start Wondering should find the roomier Eagle Farm track more to his liking for this weekend’s Kingsford Smith Cup 2017 according to trainer Evan Rayner.
Rayner brought the rising seven-year-old son of Eighth Wonder, who he trains in partnership with daughter Jennifer Rayner across the Tasman at Wanganui on New Zealand’s North Island, to Queensland earlier in the month.
Original plans were to bypass the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival in favour of a Hong Kong bid targeting the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 7, but Rayner was forced to revaluate campaign options due to quarantine restrictions.
“Getting there [to Hong Kong] was fine but getting him home wasn’t so great,” Rayner explained to Racing Queensland this week.
The 75-year-old horseman made the call to target the riches on offer in the Sunshine State, where he returned for the first time in two decades for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) on May 12.
Start Wondering jumped from barrier 7 of 13 in the Doomben 10,000 with regular rider back home Johnathan Parkes making the trip for the ride, but could only manage to finish just under four lengths back sixth to the winner Redzel.
Rayner was pleased with the horse’s efforts, saying he was ridden too close to the pace on the day and things were looking good ahead of a second-up run in Saturday’s $700,000 Group 1 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm.
“I always question whether to bring New Zealand horses to compete against the Australian sprinters because we don’t normally beat them but he deserves his chance,” he said.
“I was happy with his run in the 10,000 but he wouldn’t quicken in the ground and hopefully Eagle Farm will suit him better.
“I think he was ridden too handy in the 10,000 as he prefers to get back but he’s done well since and pulled up great after his gallop at the Gold Coast this week.”
A 14 horse field has been confirmed for the Kingsford-Smith Cup, formerly the BTC Cup, with Start Wondering drawing out wide with barrier 12.
That shouldn’t be too much of a problem as instructions to Parkes, who retains the ride, will be to get back this time.
All going well, Rayner hopes to press onto the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) back at Eagle Farm on June 10 so long as the horse gets in well weight-wise.
“If he runs well on Saturday he’ll go to the Stradbroke but he won’t run if he gets a ridiculous weight,” he said.
Current Kingsford Smith Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the Darren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart installed as the $3.40 favourite looking to atone for his seventh in last Saturday’s Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide.
Start Wondering can be found further down the Kingsford Smith Cup betting markets at $21, a price similar to that of recent upset BTC Cup winners Famous Seamus ($21 in 2014) and Hot Snitzel ($26 in 2015) when the sprint ran over 1200m at Doomben.
Formerly prepared by the now retired Paul Belsham in New Zealand, Start Wondering also spent a stint racing in Sydney with Chris Waller that came to an end due to a bleeding attack in May last year.
He has been at his best with Rayner this season however winning the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie as well as the Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa in February.
Check out the full Kingsford Smith Cup 2017 betting odds and options online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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