By Ray Hickson
Emerging four-year-old Cradle Mountain will be out to justify the mini-boom he earned himself in an unbeaten summer campaign when he makes his city debut at Royal Randwick on Wednesday.
The lightly raced gelding stamped himself as an exciting prospect with three straight wins on the country and provincial circuit, capped off with a track record over the Kembla Grange 1200m in January.
Jockey Jason Collett said the gelding has enjoyed a nice build up to his return in the Beersheba Handicap (1200m) and is upbeat while conceding it’s a race of some depth.
“This is the next stage for him. He’s stepped up to every task we threw at him last prep and near the end he went to another level,’’ Collett said.
“We think he’s pretty good and this prep will give us a fair idea. If he passes this then he’ll probably move to a Saturday race and work through the grades.’’
In his Kembla win, Punters Intel reveals Cradle Mountain ran the fastest last 600m of 33.33 and really put the foot down running 10.73 between the 400m and the 200m.
Cradle Mountain is of course trained by Collett’s partner Clare Cunningham so has been very hands on when it comes to his preparaton.
He served a reminder of his promise in winning a barrier trial at Warwick Farm on April 9, putting six lengths on Group winner Pecans, over 807m.
“He only had the one trial in, we would have liked the two, but he did have a gallop on a race day at Nowra and had a nice hit out there,’’ Collett said.
“Clare has tried to get the most prizemoney out of him along the way without getting there too soon.
“His turn of foot is very electric, that’s a huge asset. He just keeps improving each time.’’
While Cradle Mountain has led throughout in his three wins to date Collett isn’t approaching the race with a lead at all costs attitude.
He said the horse will naturally put himself on the speed but he has options if something outpaces him early.
“We don’t think he has to lead. This could be a chance for him to not lead, there are a couple that can go quick as well,’’ he said.
Cradle Mountain’s very easy trial win at Warwick Farm on April 9
“It’s a good draw and a nice starting point for him.’’
Collett is hoping Group winning mare Karavali can bounce back from a puzzling last start defeat when she contests the Anzac Day Cup (1800m).
The Kris Lees-trained mare, $5 early favourite with TAB, is unbeaten at Randwick but comes off a rare failure where she was beaten almost eight lengths in the Epona Stakes at Rosehill a month ago.
“I’m not sure what went wrong, she never travelled and wasn’t comfortable,’’ Collett said.
“You’ve got to put a line through it really. Her trial looked good the other day and she wouldn’t be going to the races if Kris wasn’t happy so that gives you confidence.’’