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Cunningham Climbing One Mountain At A Time

By Ray Hickson

Emerging sprinter Cradle Mountain takes another step up the ladder at Scone on Saturday and trainer Clare Cunningham is keen to keep those steps on the small side for now.

It’s easy to get carried away with a winning streak and the four-year-old will be favoured to make it five in a row in the Vinery Stud Handicap (1100m).

But Cunningham is well aware of the raps on Cradle Mountain and doesn’t want to waste wins with a gelding whose best is still ahead of him.

“I want to work through the grades with him, I don’t see a point putting a 79-rater in a black type race and getting penalised 20 if you’re beating horses close to 100-raters,’’ she said.

“You’re only shortening their career. The owners are really happy to poke through as many ratings (races) as we can before we go there.

“'Put your horse in the worst company and yourself in the best’. I love that saying.’’

Cradle Mountain broke a track record at Kembla Grange back in January and made a super impressive city debut with a dominant showing, again in fast time, at Randwick on Anzac Day.

Cradle Mountain's impressive all the way first-up win at Randwick on April 25

He’s now won four of his six starts and moves into Saturday grade with Scone hosting a metropolitan meeting.

Cunningham said Cradle Mountain is a real character around the stable and since he pulled up in great order after the Randwick win she’s happy to put him through his paces again though the campaign isn’t likely to exceed four runs.

“He’s not casual, he’s a pleasure in relation to the fact he loves being a racehorse,’’ she said.

“He makes us all smile, he loves being there and loves his routine. If you try to change his routine and give him a quiet day and not ride him he can get upset he hasn’t worked.

“In other ways he can be a little full on. I fell off him early in the prep, he’s very playful and doesn’t know his own power.

“When he gets to the races he gets into the zone and just makes my life a lot easier.’’

Punters Intel data showed Cradle Mountain scooted through his first 600m when resuming in 34.77 and still ran 33.37 for his final 600m.

He comes back 100m at Scone and Cunningham said his draw allows jockey Jason Collett options as far as leading or sitting just off the speed.

She made the point of saying Cradle Mountain doesn’t have to lead to win but isn’t going to change a winning formula if the circumstances play that way.

“That’s the beauty of drawing a little bit out, you can come across under your own steam,’’ she said.

“It’d be lovely to see him sit off one but Jason knows him very well and he’ll come out and see how it all unfolds.’’

All the fields, form and replays for Saturday's meeting at Scone

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