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Still A Mountain To Climb For Hat-Trick

By Ray Hickson

He’s two from two this preparation but there are still plenty of ‘mountains’ to climb for promising four-year-old Cradle Mountain.

That’s the opinion of jockey Jason Collett, who has been on board the gelding in all four starts and three barrier trials for his partner trainer Clare Cunningham.

Cradle Mountain will attempt to make it three straight in the Resolutions Class 2 Handicap (1200m) at Kembla Grange on Wednesday.

“We’ve had him since day one so we’ve been able to educate him our way and we feel like he’s starting to become the complete package - slowly,’’ Collett said.

“There are still things he has to learn but he’s getting there. While he is a bit older he has come a long way in two preparations.

“He’s been professional, whereas in that first prep he wasn’t.’’

Cradle Mountain's easy second-up win at Canberra - December 17

The flashy looking galloper has led all the way to four and 2-1/4 length wins at Goulburn and Canberra in his two starts this campaign.

He faces a bit of potential competition for the lead and a seriously soft track for the first time but the ease of his wins has him a clear $2.25 favourite with TAB.

“Both wins have been when there’s been a bit of an inside, on speed bias. But he’s been doing it well,’’ Collett said.

“No doubt he’ll be racing near the speed, whether it’s in front or outside or just behind. He’s jumping to the front and relaxing, the next step is to make sure he’s not so one dimensional.’’

That’s not to say if Cradle Mountain is handed the lead Collett won’t take advantage – there’s no point in changing a winning formula for the sake of it.

“He’s settled in the gates and jumping well, putting himself there and that’s why he’s been winning them,’’ he said.

“We don’t want to be throwing him in the deep end too quickly by going to town and expose him there when he may still lack that bit of professionalism.’’

As far as the soft track is concerned, what Collett has seen in trackwork gives him confidence Cradle Mountain will have no issues handling the ground.

You’d think riding for your partner would bring some added pressure with it but Collett said his experience is quite the opposite.

Cunningham is regarded as one of the real emerging trainers in Sydney and is building an impressive strike rate with her limited team. Collett is very much committed to her cause.

“I find it quite easy, we’re both on the same page and that makes things easier,’’ he said.

“Hey I’m the first to throw my hand up if I’m the reason why we’ve been beaten but we dissect it a fair bit after the result. It hasn’t happened too often so far.’’

All the fields, form and replays for Wednesday's meeting at Kembla Grange

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