Kiwi trainer J.J. Rayner will let the weather determine if her Group 1 winning sprinter Start Wondering lines up in the Group 1 $700,000 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Start Wondering never threatened when sixth to Redzel in the Group 1 $700,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1200m) at Doomben on May 13 and Rayner would like to give the six year old another run before the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 10.
But if there is rain leading into the weekend Rayner said that she would not run Start Wondering on a very heavy track in the weight for age Kingsford-Smith Cup, formerly known as the Group 1 BTC Cup which was previously run over 1200m at Doomben.
“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,” Rayner told the New Zealand Racing Desk.
“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.”
The Eagle Farm track was rated a heavy 8 on Thursday morning for Kingsford-Smith Cup Race Day but track manager Sean Bridges is expecting an upgrade into the soft range before the weekend if the weather holds out.
“It is a beautiful drying day up in here in Queensland today so hopefully it might get back to a soft 7,” Bridges told racing.com.
The condition of the Eagle Farm track continues to haunt all participants and hasn’t really raced up to expectation since the reconstruction was completed over twelve months ago.
Not every horse is comfortable on the loose surface and Rayner, who trains at Wangauni in New Zealand with co-trainer Evan Rayner, is not sure how Start Wondering will handle the track, particularly if some rain does arrive.
“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 prefer it better,” Rayner said
Rayner admits that Star Wondering definitely needed the run in the Doomben 10,000 and will strip a much fitter galloper if he goes around in the Kingsford-Smith Cup.
“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,” Rayner said.
“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 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.”
Top Kiwi rider Jonathon Parkes has forged a great combination with Start Wondering which includes two Group 1 wins, and the pair will team up again on the weekend.
Star Wondering has collected two Group 1 trophies already this calendar year with victories in the NZ$200,000 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie in New Zealand on January 1 and in the NZ$200,000 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa in New Zealand on February 11.
The six year old then ran second in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) at Otaki in New Zealand on February 25 before arriving in Brisbane.
Star Wondering has been posted as one of the outsiders at $26 in the Kingsford-Smith Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Darren Weir trained Black Heart Bart as the $3.30 favourite.
Sharing the second line of betting at $6.50 is the Kris Lees trained Clearly Innocent and Lindsay Park’s three year old Derryn.