By Ray Hickson
Trainer Clare Cunningham doesn’t claim to be a miracle worker but she’s hoping the more forgiving Sydney tracks can coax talented mare Miss Wonderland back to her best form.
The four-year-old, managed by Cunningham’s former boss Peter Moody, steps out in the APN Outdoor Handicap (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday with her racing career in the balance.
Miss Wonderland, a $10 chance with TAB on Thursday, has won three of her eight starts and was Group 3 placed in the 2016 spring but failed badly in her two runs in 2018.
“I haven’t made her any better,’’ Cunningham said.
“She came up to me because she was jarring up on the Melbourne tracks. She’s on her last chance before the broodmare sales so Peter thought he’d send her up to Sydney because there’s more give in the tracks.’’
The mare’s last win was on a heavy track at Sandown back in December and while she won’t be striking heavy ground at Randwick, Cunningham said she hopes there’s enough cushion to allow her to stretch out.
She contested a trial at Warwick Farm on April 9, finishing fourth over 807m, with Jason Collett riding and it was enough to suggest she’s ready to race after a bit of time spent on the water walker since coming to Sydney.
“She’s a jointy mare, to me she seems she still wants to be a racehorse so the key to her will be to get her on a track with some give,’’ Cunningham said.
“We wanted to make sure she was on the right track in the trial. She can be a little bit aggressive and we wanted to take a bit of sting out of her and make sure her fitness was up to race standard.
“We’re still learning about her because her last two runs aren’t much to go on. Peter says you just have to make her happy and have her somewhere she’s travelling comfortably.
“Jason just has to work with her.’’
Cunningham has an imposing strike rate this season at 26 per cent and she’s combined with her partner Collett for half of her total winners.
They also team up with lightly raced three-year-old Savvy Ken who has been thrown in the deep end in the Group 3 $150,000 IGA Liquor Frank Packer Plate (2000m).
Miss Wonderland's barrier trial at Warwick Farm on April 9
A maiden after five starts, Savvy Ken is on a Queensland Derby path if he proves competitive. TAB doesn’t think he will be, he’s a $101 chance on Saturday.
“It’s not ideal to be having a maiden in this type of race but the dream is for a Queensland Derby prep if he’s good enough,’’ Cunningham said.
“This is a bit of a sink or swim but we think he will enjoy the distance.’’
Savvy Ken made his Sydney debut as a well-supported $3.60 chance at Warwick Farm on April 11 and ran third in a 1600m three-year-old maiden.
“He was a bit aggressive in the early stages and hopefully with the run under his belt he settles a bit nicer,’’ she said.
“At least we will get a bit of a line on whether we should go to Queensland.’’
Meanwhile, Cunningham’s promising four-year-old Cradle Mountain is set to resume at Randwick on Wednesday after an impressive trial win earlier this month.
The gelding has won three of his five starts and was last seen breaking the 1200m track record at Kembla Grange back in January.
He’s been nominated for Benchmark 75 races over 1000m and 1200m at the Anzac Day meeting.