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Special congratulations to all of the local connections!
|J. J Rayner (right) with Kate Belsham and Start Wondering and Johnathan Parkes
Photo: Trish Dunell
Emotional scenes greeted the winner as he returned to scale after providing father and daughter, Evan and JJ Rayner, with their first Group One winner as a training partnership. The six-year-old Eighth Wonder gelding had found his way to their Whanganui base after spending his formative years with the now retired Paul Belsham before undertaking a Sydney campaign from the Chris Waller stable.
“Paul’s my cousin and we’re very close,” said JJ Rayner after the race.
“The owners gave him to Paul before sending him to Sydney with Chris Waller. He bled over there so he came back but Paul had retired so he came to us.
“Paul did all the early work and he will be cheering at home. I can imagine Wanganui will be going off!”
Perfectly drawn in barrier four, Start Wondering was given a peach of a ride by Johnathan Parkes who had captured the Gr. 3 Laser Plumbing Te Puke City of Auckland Cup with St. Jean just a race earlier. Parkes tracked a blistering speed set by Irish Moon before issuing his challenge with 300 metres to run. The powerful gelding bounded to the lead and although hotly pursued by Perfect Fit in the final stages, comfortably held out the mare’s challenge in a sizzling 1.08.84 for the 1200 metre journey.
Parkes was struggling to come to terms with the success immediately after the race.
“I said to one of the jockeys when we pulled up that I’d have to pinch myself,” he admitted.
“I was quite confident he could win today and he’s come out and done it well. He got out well and we got a nice trip.
“I had him just where I wanted him as I didn’t want to be on the fence. The pace really made it for me as he likes the speed on and when it was time to move he really came over the top of them.
“In the end he was just too good.”
Start Wondering was scoring his ninth career victory from just 16 starts and has now banked over $350,000 in total prizemoney. – NZ Racing Desk