CLARE Cunningham knows Cradle Mountain is a talented horse on the way up, but she will find out just how good he is when he resumes in the Beersheba Handicap (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Wednesday.
The four-year-old is coming off an unbeaten second preparation with dominant wins at Goulburn, Canberra and Kembla Grange. But Wednesday is his first time in city class and he comes into the race off a 6½-length trial win against the likes of Hartnell, Istria and Pecans.
Cunningham didn’t think he would win by that much but said the horse was in a much better mood now that he’s back at the races.
“He loves going fast and loves racing,” she said. “The owners spell him at their property but he doesn’t spell very well because he loves being a racehorse and he wants to run.
MATT JONES’S BEST BETS
BEST BET: BEACON (Race 7, No.8)
He’s a Saturday-class horse and should be able to get the job done on talent alone. He’s had a nice break and looks ready to fire.
NEXT BEST: DROCHAID (Race 6, No.3)
These former European horses take a few races to get going and he’s now up to a much more suitable trip. He should be strong to the line and won’t mind a bit of give in the track.
VALUE BET: ARDANZA (Race 4, No.9)
Was good last time behind a horse who backed up to win a Group race at Randwick on Saturday. He’s going much better than his form reads.
Race 5: 2, 3, 12; Race 6: 1, 2, 3, 4; Race 7: 5, 6, 8; Race 8: 1, 2, 5.
TRAINER TO WATCH
JAMES CUMMINGS could easily walk away with three winners, with a number of runners who are racing below their grade.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
KERRIN MCEVOY is in form at the moment and has the rides to help him continue booting home winners.
SCROLL DOWN FOR MATT’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
“They’ve kept him safe and sound. He’s always been quirky. It’s just a part of his nature and we love it. He’s trialled up well and he’s in good order, so now we’ve got to see if he can take the next step.”
He has to take on the likes of Beacon, In Times Of War and Smartedge, but will jump from barrier five with regular rider Jason Collett on board.
While there will be no specific riding instructions given to Collett, he led on him at all three runs last preparation. The worst he has settled in the running is third in his first preparation.
“He won pretty convincingly last start and this is the next test for him, but I’m sure he’ll face even bigger tests in time.
“Being a sprinter, it’s easy to get them ready first-up and he’s nice and fit, and Jason will ride him where he’s comfortable,” Cunningham said.
“He’s got natural gate speed, so we’ll let him race where he wants.”
Cunningham said there’s no reason to doubt him in city company and feels it’s where he will remain from now on.
“There are a few horses that are stronger than the ones he’s been up against, and we’ll get a guide on how good he is,” she said. “I think he’s good enough to win on a Saturday eventually, but for now he’s just working his way up.”
Wendy Roche believes Ardanza will be sent out over the odds in the Battle Of Amiens Handicap (1600m). She ran in the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) two starts ago but didn’t quite run out the trip.
She returned last start to run three lengths behind Higher Ground, who went on to win the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate last Saturday at Randwick. Ardanza should have won that day if given the right ride, Roche said.
“She’ll go better than the form shows if she can get things to her way,” the trainer said.
“The formline looks very good now and the Randwick track will suit her because she’s got a long stride and she’ll like the big straight. She would have been in the first three but she was forced to stop and start, and you’ve got to let her run.”
Expect her to be ridden more positively on Wednesday from barrier four.
“She’s got a good turn of foot and can sustain it with a high cruising speed, and she’s better placed in this race,” Roche said.
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES
RACE 1 (12.45pm)
8. Stock Up had too much to do from the back of the field last week and the extra 100m helps here. She will be even better over a mile and the bigger track won’t hurt, either. 7. Sazavee went over the line with Stock Up last start and was doing just as well over the final 50m. 3. Stone is third-up and peaking for this. His two seconds were in provincial company, so he would need to improve a length to win this, but he has the state’s leading rider on board. 4. Stryke Rock will have the last shot at them.
BETTING STRATEGY: STOCK UP to win.
RACE 2 (1.20pm)
Chris Waller is giving 6. Orcein his easiest test here after running in a Group 3 race last start against the likes of Secret Lady and Gongs. The Snitzel colt comes off two trials, so expect a forward showing. 7. Pembroke Castle also drops well in class for this and will settle off the speed. Tempo is key for him, but he, too, is well bred and has ability. It could be a Waller trifecta because first-starter 10. The Autumn Sun has trialled nicely and looks above average.
BETTING STRATEGY: ORCEIN to win.
RACE 3 (1.55pm)
4. Colombina should have won last start and he can go one better as the most experienced horse in the field. The Snowdens must have a huge opinion of 6. Galina after she made her debut in the Gimcrack Stakes last September. She’s been given plenty of time and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her coming over the top of them in the final 50m. 11. Separated is on debut and comes into this off a three-length trial win. She looks loaded with talent.
BETTING STRATEGY: SEPARATED to win.
RACE 4 (2.30pm)
8. Velocita went enormous to win first-up and she has obviously turned herself into a much better horse in her second preparation. 9. Ardanza wasn’t far off a subsequent Group winner last start so keep an eye on the market. 2. Hussterical is ready for a peak performance, but if there’s any rain about I’d steer clear. 4. Jaunty isn’t going too bad and is fresh.
BETTING STRATEGY: VELOCITA to win.
RACE 5 (3.10pm)
3. Malahat drops well back in class for this, having run in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes and he had form behind stablemate Viridine before that. If he returns with any sort of improvement, he’ll win this. 2. Misery is having his first start for trainer Bjorn Baker and trialled well, suggesting he can win first-up for the fourth time. 6. Hillary Step is good over 1000m and should be nice and fresh for this. 12. Aboukir Bay was given an easy kill last start and will match up well for a strong stable/jockey combination.
BETTING STRATEGY: MALAHAT to win.
RACE 6 (3.45pm)
3. Drochaid will be more effective out to 1800m and has done well at his first two Australian starts. He performed at his best over 2000m in Europe. 2. Karavali will be a big chance if there’s any rain about but she’s still nice and fit and will run out the trip. 1. Etymology was given a soft kill in the bush last time, which should boost her confidence.
BETTING STRATEGY: DROCHAID to win.
RACE 7 (4.20pm)
6. Cradle Mountain is looking to make it four straight wins but this is his toughest test of a short career. 8. Beacon is the big threat. He ran behind Unforgotten in the spring, who was flying that day. Two nice trials off a spell have him primed for a good fresh run and he has won first-up before. 2. In Times Of War will be in the finish but with nine seconds from 16 starts, she’s not a punters’ favourite.
BETTING STRATEGY: BEACON to win.
RACE 8 (4.55pm)
5. Grand Finalist finally gets to run on his home track and the drop back to 1400m is ideal. He will be up on the speed and will be hard to run down. Chris Waller is going with a proven formula and starting 1. Lead Choreographer off in the midweeks. It worked in his last preparation and he can go close again. 2. Chapelco needs to lift but has been racing well enough to consider again despite the wide gate.
BETTING STRATEGY: LEAD CHOREOGRAPHER to win.