2018

Top Kiwi Sprinter Given Distance Test

Thursday, 1st March 2018

Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) will be tried over a middle distance for the first time in his career when he lines up in the Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on Saturday week, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We were going to put him out and try him over ground next season, but he's had five runs this time in so we've decided now is the time to do it," said Evan Rayner, who trains the 7YO with his daughter JJ. "I don't think 2000m will worry him, but any further would." Start Wondering, who claimed his third Group 1 success when successfully defending his title in the BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa two starts back, was last seen finishing a brave fifth in the Gr1 WFA Classic (1600m) after jumping from a wide gate.

Start Wondering Wins Gr1 BCD Group Sprint

Monday, 12th February 2018

At Te Rapa in New Zealand, highly talented 7YO New Zealand-bred gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) made a welcome return to the winner's circle when making it back-to-back wins in the $200,000 Gr1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) for 3YO+, defeating former Hong Kong sprinters Packing Pins & Brilliant Shine. By beautifully bred stallion Eighth Wonder (Zabeel-Diamond Lover, by Sticks and Stones), Start Wondering advanced his record to 11 wins (including the Gr1 NRM Sprint, Gr1 Railway Stakes & Listed Sprint Handicap) and 6 placings (including the Gr1 Telegraph & Gr1 WFA Stakes) from 25 starts for $671,108 in earnings. "Any Group One win is special, but we weren't expecting it today," co-trainer Evan Rayner, who trains the gelding with his daughter JJ, told NZ Racing Desk. "It rained all the way up here and he's struck some terrible tracks this time around, but he handled it better than I thought at Auckland so we decided to run."

Sprinter Ready for Title Defence

Wednesday, 31st January 2018

Start Wondering is on target to defend his title in the Gr1 Waikato Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on 11 February, reports NZ Racing Desk. Last year's champion New Zealand sprinter is coming off a disappointing unplaced effort (16th of 18) in the Gr1 Telegraph (1200m) at Ellerslie on 20 January. "He galloped really well this morning so he's on target," said co-trainer Evan Rayner, who trains with his daughter JJ. Rayner said it was best to put a line through Start Wondering's Telegraph performance when he was forced to race wide from an outside gate. "He was four and five away from the fence across the junction and the jockeys were saying that it was quite off out there," Rayner said. "He's the sort of horse that if something upsets him he doesn't try an inch." He added: "We got him fully checked out. The vet went all over him and couldn't find anything physically wrong at all." Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is yet to win a race since his stellar 2016 summer campaign when he claimed the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Gr1 Waikato Sprint double.

Sprinter To Avenge Gr1 Defeat

Friday, 19th January 2018

Meanwhile, top Kiwi sprinter Start Wondering will be seeking redemption in tomorrow's Gr1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Evan and JJ Rayner-trained gelding suffered a nose defeat in last year's edition of the sprint feature which denied him a Gr1 sprint treble having landed wins in the Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie and NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa. Start Wondering kicked off his summer campaign with a second in the Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) and a brave last-start fourth in the Gr1 Railway (1200m) on a deteriorating slow 8 track at Ellerslie. "He's as well as we can have him. His work was good again this morning," Rayner said. "We just hope there's not too much rain in Wellington. I was surprised how well he did go at Auckland. We decided to run him because it would have been too long between races if we scratched." Rayner added: "We'll ride him a bit colder and have a late run at them...We're as confident as we can be. There might be a lightweight that shoots us down again but we're very happy with him." After Saturday, Rayner said Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) would bid to defend his title in the Gr1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on 10 February.

2017

Railway Defence Next for Start Wondering

Wednesday, 6th December 2017

Top Kiwi sprinter Start Wondering won't race again before he defends his title in the Gr1 Railway Stakles (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, reports NZ Racing Desk. The son of Eighth Wonder had a stellar 2016 summer campaign when winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Gr1 Waikato Sprint, as well as finishing runner-up in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap. "He'll possibly have a trial or a gallop between races somewhere, it's worked for us before," said Evan Rayner, who trains the champion sprinter at Wanganui with his daughter J.J. The 7YO was a gallant second when resuming in last week's Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) at Otaki where he conceded the winner Chambord 7.5 kilograms. "He always goes well on the fresh side," Rayner added. "After Ellerslie, he'll go to Trentham for the Telegraph."

Chambord Wins Listed Levin Stakes

Monday, 4th December 2017

At Otaki in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's deceased multiple champion sire Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle, by Nureyev) added a black-type success when 7YO New Zealand-bred gelding Chambord (Zabeel-Miss Montjeu, by Montjeu) claimed a well overdue maiden stakes victory when holding on for a narrow win in the $50,000 Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) for 3YO+, defeating Start Wondering & Shadow Fox. A $200,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2012 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Cambridge Stud, Chambord improved his record to 4 wins and 8 placings (including the Gr1 NZ 2000 Guineas) from 21 starts for $209,175 in earnings.

Star On Track for Gr1 Features

Thursday, 30th November 2017

Trainers Evan and JJ Rayner believe they have their stable star Start Wondering on track to defend his Gr1 Railway Stakes (1200m) title on New Year's Day, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 7YO, who was last seen finishing down the track in the Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in Brisbane in May, had a stellar 2016 summer campaign when winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Gr1 Waikato Sprint, as well as finishing runner-up in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap. "He had a good break after Brisbane and he's come back looking great," Evan Rayner said. "He's had exhibition gallops between races at Otaki and Waverley, but he hasn't been to the trials." He added: "He could have gone to the Waverley or Foxton trials, but we don't want him too tuned up. He's done enough." Star Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is set to resume in Friday's Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) at Otaki under top weight of 61kg. "He's getting ready for the Railway so he'll improve with this run," Rayner said. "He'll be sitting behind the pace and I think he'll be right in it. He'll try himself. He's that type of horse."

Top Kiwi Sprinter Close to Return

Thursday, 9th November 2017

Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is likely to kick off his summer campaign at Otaki, reports NZ Racing Desk. Connections had originally pencilled in Saturday’s Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) as the starting point for the champion sprinter’s return, but will now wait until the Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) on 1 December. “He’s had a couple of jump-outs, but he needs another jump-out, trial or a gallop at the races,” said J.J. Rayner, who trains Start Wondering with her father Evan. The 7YO, who was last seen finishing down the track in the Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in Brisbane in May, had a stellar 2016 summer campaign when winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Gr1 Waikato Sprint, as well as finishing runner-up in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap. Those three features are once again his targets over the summer.

Start Wondering to Target Top Sprints

Wednesday, 27th September 2017

Star Kiwi sprinter Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is once again being prepared for a campaign aimed New Zealand's major summer sprints, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 7YO, who was last seen finishing down the track in the Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in Brisbane in May, had a stellar 2016 summer campaign when winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Gr1 Waikato Sprint, as well as finishing runner-up in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap. Evan Rayner, who prepares Star Wondering with his daughter J. J. from their Wanganui base, said those three feature events would again be the focus of the upcoming campaign. "He's been back in work a bit over four weeks and he had his first quiet run up the straight last week. He looks great and we're very happy with him," he said. Rayner said Start Wondering was likely to kick off his campaign in the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa in November.

NZ HOTY Awards Emphasise 3YO Quality

Thursday, 6th July 2017

The strength of New Zealand's 3YO crop is emphasised by the release of the finalists for the 2016-17 New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, reports NZ Racing Desk. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has announced the finalists for five of the six racehorse categories, with the finalists for the Jumper of the Year to be finalised later in the month. The five finalists for Three-Year-Old of the Year have all been classic winners this season and Bonneval and Gingernuts were Group One winners on both sides of the Tasman. Jon Snow was a dual Group One placegetter in New Zealand and a Group One and Group Two winner in Australia, while La Diosa was a Group One winner in New Zealand and a Group Two winner in Australia. All finalists are also eligible for the Horse of the Year award, which will be announced at a gala dinner in Auckland, at the Langham Hotel, on Sunday, 10th September.

  • Champion 2YO: Gold Fever, Melody Belle, Summer Passage.
  • Champion 3YO: Bonneval, Gingernuts, Jon Snow, La Diosa, Ugo Foscolo.
  • Champion Sprinter (up to 1500m): Kawi, Saracino, Signify, Start Wondering.
  • Champion Middle-Distance (1501m-2100m): Kawi, Thee Auld Floozie, Volkstok'n'barrell, Willie Cazals.
  • Champion Stayer (2101m and further):  Bonneval, Chenille, Chocante, Gingernuts, Jacksstar, Jon Snow, Lizzie L'Amour.

Start Wondering Aiming at More Summer Gr1 Glory

Wednesday, 28th June 2017

Top Kiwi sprinter Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is enjoying a winter break ahead of a campaign aimed at New Zealand's feature summer sprints, reports theinformant.co.nz. Start Wondering, who was last seen finishing down the track in the Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in Brisbane in May, had a stellar 2016 summer campaign when winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes and placing second in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap. Both races are once again high on the 6YOs agenda. "He's out in the paddock having a bit of a break at the moment," co-trainer JJ Rayner said. "When he comes back into work, we'll probably look at going the same way as we did this season – the Railway, Telegraph, those sorts of races."

Doomben Calling Top Kiwi Sprinter

Thursday, 1st June 2017

The change of venue for Saturday's $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) has extended Start Wondering's Queensland campaign, reports NZ Racing Desk. This season's top New Zealand sprinter was one of the many victims of the much criticised state of the Eagle Farm track when unplaced in last Saturday's Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup. The Wanganui galloper had previously finished sixth in his Brisbane debut in the Gr1 Doomben 10,000. "Now that they've moved the Stradbroke to Doomben he'll be staying on," said J.J. Rayner, who prepares the 6YO with her father Evan. "He would have gone straight home if it was going to be run at Eagle Farm." She added: "The track there is terrible. It was a waste of time on Saturday and he might just have stayed at home - it was akin to running on a Heavy 11 at Trentham." Fortunately, the dual Group One winner of the Railway Stakes and the NRM Sprint took no harm from the outing. "He's very well, it's just that he's been on two wet tracks and he hasn't copped them," Rayner said. "He hasn't had any luck at all. He's really good though and has come through the race well. He's as bright as a button and hopefully we can get some good weather and a decent track for the Stradbroke."

Start Wondering Chasing More Gr1 Glory

Thursday, 25th May 2017

Trainer Evan Rayner knows it takes an exceptional Kiwi sprinter to beat the Australians on their home turf but he is confident Start Wondering can do just that in tomorrow’s Gr1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm. However, the dual Gr1 winner will have to improve on his sixth place finish in the Gr1 Doomben 10,000 two weeks ago. “I always question whether to bring New Zealand horses to compete against the Australian sprinters because we don’t normally beat them but he deserves his chance,” Rayner told Racing Queensland Webnews. “I was happy with his run in the 10,000 but he wouldn’t quicken in the ground and hopefully Eagle Farm will suit him better.” Rayner added: “If he runs well on Saturday he’ll go to the Stradbroke but he won’t run if he gets a ridiculous weight.” The $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) will be run at Eagle Farm on 10 June.

Stradbroke Next for Start Wondering

Tuesday, 16th May 2017

Top Kiwi sprinter Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is likely to go straight into next month's Stradbroke Handicap without another run following his brave sixth in Saturday's Gr1 Doomben 10,000 in Brisbane, reports theinformant.co.nz. Despite struggling in the soft conditions, the two-time Gr1 winner was still able to finish within 3.8 lengths of the impressive winner Redzel in the $700,000 sprint feature. "He didn't handle the track at all," co-trainer Evan Rayner said. "He was down in the worst of it and he just wasn't able to quicken. We were very pleased with how he went, but he just couldn't quicken the way he usually does." He added: "But the main thing is he's come through the race very well. I couldn't be happier with how he looks. It's more than likely that he won't run again before the Stradbroke." The $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) will be run at Eagle Farm on 10 June.

Star Kiwi Sprinter to Make Winter Impact

Wednesday, 3rd May 2017

Wanganui trainer Evan Rayner says star sprinter Start Wondering is poised to make an impact during the winter carnival in Queensland, reports NZ Racing Desk. "Start Wondering is doing everything right and he had a good gallop this morning and wouldn't have blown a match out afterwards," said Rayner, who trains with his daughter JJ. "He'll run in the Doomben 10,000 on May 13 and there's the Darley Kingsford Smith Cup a fortnight later." Rayner added: "We'll then have to work out what we do and if he goes on to the Stradbroke [Gr1], it will depend on what weight he gets in that." Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) was last seen finishing second to Kawi in the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki which rounded out a stellar summer & autumn campaign for the 6YO who claimed Gr1 victories in the Railway Stakes and NRM Sprint, as well as the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint. He was also a close second in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap.

Heroic Valour on Track for Brisbane

Wednesday, 26th April 2017

Group One winner Heroic Valour enjoyed a quiet trial at Hawkesbury on Monday ahead of his Queensland campaign, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained colt finished third in his 1000 metre heat without being out under any pressure. The 3YO will make his Australian debut in the Gr3 Gold Coast Guineas on 6 May with Richards confirming that Opie Bosson will take the ride. Providing Heroic Valour races up to expectations, the Gr1 Kingsford Smith Cup at Eagle Farm on 27 May will be his primary target. Heroic Valour, a Fastnet Rock half-brother to Doncaster Handicap winner Triple Honour, is a winner of last season's Gr1 Diamond Stakes. He was last seen finishing fourth behind Start Wondering in the Gr1 Waikato Sprint in February.

Focus Turns to Brisbane for Star Sprinter

Wednesday, 12th April 2017

Star Wanganui sprinter Start Wondering is set to embark upon a Queensland winter carnival campaign after connections decided against a start in the Gr1 Chairman's Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on 7 May, reports NZ Racing Desk. "He definitely won't be going to Hong Kong. Getting there was fine but getting him home wasn't so great," said J.J. Rayner, who trains Start Wondering with her father Evan. "He would be away for a month and a half and he could be there on his own in quarantine if no Australian horses go. We decided that it wasn't in the horse's best interests so at this stage we will be looking at Brisbane." Rayner added: "The BTC Cup and the Doomben 10,000 are very good options and we could also be looking at the Stradbroke." Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) was last seen finishing second to Kawi in the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki which rounded out a stellar summer & autumn campaign for the 6YO who claimed Gr1 victories in the Railway Stakes and NRM Sprint, as well as the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint. He was also a close second in the Gr1 Telegraph Handicap.

Overseas Options for Start Wondering

Tuesday, 21st March 2017

The connections of Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) are considering an international campaign for the dual Gr1 winner, reports NZ Racing Desk. Among the races being considered is the HK$14 million (approx. NZ$2.6m) Gr1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on 7 May. Part of the Global Sprint Challenge series, the Chairman's Sprint Prize was won last year by star Australian sprinter Chautauqua. "There's options for the horse and he's back in the stable now in case he is going to Hong Kong," said Evan Rayner, who trains the six-year-old with his daughter J.J. The Doomben 10,000 on 27 May during the Queensland winter carnival is also an option for Start Wondering, who enjoyed a break following his runner-up finish in the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic. The Otaki race closed out a stellar campaign that saw the son of Eighth Wonder capture the Gr1 Railway Stakes, Gr1 NRM Sprint and the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint. He was also a close second in the Gr1 Telegraph.

Kawi Wins Gr1 WFA Classic

Monday, 27th February 2017

At Otaki in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite success when 6YO gelding Kawi (Savabeel-Magic Time, by Volksraad) scored by 0.75 length for trainer Allan Sharrock in the NZ$200,000 Gr1 WFA Classic (1600m) for 3YO+, over fellow 6YO gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) & 4YO mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago). The WFA Classic was Kawi's sixth victory at Gr1 level which saw him break through the million dollar barrier to advance his record to 14 wins (including the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes - twice, Gr1 Thorndon Mile, Gr1 Zabeel Classic, Gr3 Taranaki Cup & Listed Anniversary Handicap) and 8 placings (including the Gr1 Easter Handicap & Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes) from 31 starts for NZ$1,059,605 earnings. Trainer Allan Sharrock said the Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) in two weeks time was the logical next target for New Zealand's weight-for age star. "To me he was very strong late and looking like he wants 2000 metres now," Sharrock told NZ Racing Desk. "He's class and they played the waiting game and when they got out into the open he was dominant in the last few strides," he said.

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Sofia Rosa Confirmed For Otaki

Wednesday, 22nd February 2017

Trainer Stephen Marsh says he is expecting a bold showing from smart mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) in Saturday's Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki, reports theinformant.co.nz. Last year's Australian Oaks winner gave Marsh cause for optimism when she resumed from a four-month break with an encouraging performance in the Gr1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa eleven days ago. Despite beginning slowly and drifting back to the tail of the field, the 4YO ran home strongly in the straight to finish seventh (beaten 3.4 lengths) behind star sprinter Start Wondering. "I thought her last 100 metres in particular was very good," Marsh said. "She was going nowhere for most of the race, but then she really got going late. It showed us that we definitely have something to work with." Marsh added: "She's been doing really well since then...I just have to hope it didn't bottom her out for her second-up run. That's my only concern." Marsh nominated multiple Gr1 winner Kawi as the horse to beat. "I can't fault her, her work's been good. I'd be expecting a tidy run. Kawi might be hard to beat, but we'll give it our best shot," he said. Marsh has previously said Sofia Rosa's primary autumn target is the $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on 8 April.

Start Wondering Wins Gr1 NRM Sprint

Monday, 13th February 2017

At Te Rapa in New Zealand, lightly raced 6YO gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) confirmed his status as the new king of New Zealand sprinting when scoring by a head for trainers Evan & J.J.Rayner in the $200,000 Gr1 NRM Sprint (1400m) for 3YO+, over 8YO gelding Natuzzi (Coats Choice-Monsanto, by Kilimanjaro) & 3YO colt Saracino (Per Incanto-Bella Daniela, by O'Reilly). By beautifully bred stallion Eighth Wonder (Zabeel-Diamond Lover, by Sticks and Stones), Start Wondering advanced his record to 10 wins (including the Gr1 Railway Stakes & Listed Sprint Handicap) and 4 placings (including the Gr1 Telegraph) from 18 starts for $503,318 Earnings. Since his return from Sydney following a bleeding attack, Start Wondering has won three of his five starts, including the Gr1 Railway Stakes and he only failed by a nose to also claim the Gr1 Telegraph, reports NZ Racing Desk. "He's a very good horse and it was another very good ride," said Evan Rayner, who prepares the gelding for his Wanganui owner Steve Gudsell. "I trained for his uncle nearly 50 years ago!" Rayner wouldn't be drawn on Start Wondering's next target, although the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki in a fortnight's time is the most likely.

Distance Rise For Start Wondering

Wednesday, 8th February 2017

Start Wondering will step up in trip when he contests Saturday's Gr1 NRM Sprint over 1400 metres at Te Rapa, reports theinformant.co.nz. The 6YO won over 1600 metres earlier in his career and was also successful over 1500 metres when trained by Chris Waller in Sydney, but he has been kept to sprint journeys since his return to New Zealand late last year. That strategy has been richly rewarded with the Evan & JJ Rayner-trained son of Eighth Wonder finally fulfilling the significant potential he showed early in his career by winning the Gr1 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie and finishing runner-up in the Gr1 Telegraph at Trentham at his past two outings. "After Saturday's race we'll more than likely head to Otaki for the weight-for-age mile [Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic] towards the end of this month," co-trainer JJ Rayner said. "Then we'll probably give him a break after those two races." He added: "We think the extra distances should suit him now. He's relaxing and settling really nicely in his races." Rayner said he expected a bold showing from Start Wondering on Saturday. "He's been doing really well since Trentham. He's bouncing around. We've been to the beach with him and the park, a few different things to mix it up a bit. He's freshened up nicely and seems ready to go another good race on Saturday."

Signify Wins Gr1 Telegraph

Monday, 23rd January 2017

At Trentham in New Zealand, Brighthill Farm's Gr1-winning & dual Gr1-placed Australian-bred stallion Perfectly Ready (More Than Ready-Elle Duccio, by Danehill) celebrated an elite success when 5YO New Zealand-bred gelding Signify (Perfectly Ready-Pica Pica, by Stravinsky) caused a huge upset when unleashing a powerful finish to score by a nose for trainer Alex Cowan in the NZ$250,000 Gr1 Telegraph (1200m) for 3YO+, over 6YO gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) & 5YO mare Perfect Fit (Elusive City-Fayre Form, by Tights). "He's my wife's horse," an emotional Cowan said after the race. "This is unbelievable. We've always thought he could win a good race." Signify, who cost just $5,500 at the 2013 NZB South Island Sale, improved his record to 8 wins and 9 placings (including the Gr3 CJC Stewards Handicap) from 30 starts for NZ$302,310 earnings. Unfortunately, the race was marred by the loss of the smart Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained mare First Serve, who suffered a fatal leg injury in the early stages.

Xtravagant Spot On For Telegraph

Tuesday, 17th January 2017

The Te Akau Racing team is confident that Xtravagant can bounce back to his brilliant best in Saturday's Gr1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, reports theinformant.co.nz. Xtravagant (Pentire-Axiom, by Zabeel), who registered two stunning 8-length victories in the Gr1 NZ 2000 Guineas and Gr1 Waikato Sprint as a 3YO, was a shadow of his former self in his two Australian starts in the spring, finishing towards the tail of the field in both the Gr2 Bobbie Lewis Quality and the Gr1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in Melbourne. "He's 100 per cent, everything has gone to plan," said Stephen Autridge, who trains the 4YO in partnership with Jamie Richards. "Opie (jockey Opie Bosson) will be coming down to gallop him in the morning [Tuesday]; that should top him off nicely." Xtravagant will carry equal top weight of 58kg with Gr1 Railway winner Start Wondering under the set-weight and penalty conditions of Saturday's sprint feature.

No Thorndon Mile For Start Wondering

Wednesday, 11th January 2017

A shot at a top-flight Trentham double has been all but ruled out for smart sprinter Start Wondering, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Wanganui galloper will attempt to add the Gr1 Telegraph to his Gr1 Railway Stakes success, but a start in the Gr1 Thorndon Mile is highly unlikely. "I don't think he will be running in both," said J. J. Rayner, who prepares the 6YO at Wanganui with her father Evan. Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) is more likely to be aimed toward the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki following his Trentham outing. Rayner said the gelding had picked up well since his defeat of Perfect Fit at Ellerslie on New Year's Day. "He was really tired when he got home, but we all were, and he has recovered well. He's doing fine," she said.

Start Wondering Wins Gr1 Railway Stakes

Wednesday, 4th January 2017

On New Year's Day at Ellerslie in New Zealand, lightly raced 6YO gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Akbar) won by an authoritative 1.3-lengths for trainers Evan & J.J.Rayner in the $200,000 Gr1 Railway Stakes (1200m), over 5YO mares Perfect Fit (Elusive City-Fayre Form, by Tights) & Reilly Lincoln (Pins-Wailea Miss, by O'Reilly). By beautifully bred stallion Eighth Wonder (Zabeel-Diamond Lover, by Sticks and Stones), Start Wondering is putting together an impressive resumé, now boasting 9 wins (including the Listed Sprint Handicap at Te Rapa plus 3 of his 5 Australian starts for the Chris Waller stable) & 3 placings from 16 starts for $339,770. The victory is the first at Gr1 level for the father and daughter training duo.

2016

Gr1 Goal For Star Wondering

Thursday, 24th November 2016

Impressive last-start winner Start Wondering  (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) will take another step toward a Gr1 goal at Otaki on Friday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The lightly-tried Wanganui-owned and trained 6YOs programme will take in the Listed Levin Stakes. "He's coming along really well," said Evan Rayner, who prepares the gelding with his daughter J.J. "We did think about the Concorde for him as well, but he'll go straight to the Railway Stakes." Start Wondering also holds a nomination for the Gr1 Telegraph. "Going down the chute at Trentham is like a 1400 metre race at times and we're probably going to step him up to a mile at some stage anyway," Rayner said. Start Wondering won four of his first eight starts for Wanganui trainer Paul Belsham, and after his transfer to Chris Waller's stable in Sydney he added three further victories at Rosehill before he suffered a bleeding attack. His record now reads 8 wins from 14 starts.

Start Wondering Wins Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint

Monday, 7th November 2016

Evan and J.J Rayner will let the dust settle on Start Wondering's impressive return to racing at Te Rapa before they map out his future, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Wanganui trainers were bullish about the 6YO chances in Saturday's Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) and their confidence wasn't misplaced. "It was a very good effort and we knew we had him as ready as we could," Evan Rayner said. "I'll get home and have a couple of beers while we decide what we do." Start Wondering settled in the trail, and once clear in the straight, the gelding powered clear under rider Johnathan Parkes to win by two and three quarter lengths. "All we've been waiting for is a good track for him," Rayner said. "That was a strong field and he's pulled up well, which is the main thing." Start Wondering won four of his first eight starts for Wanganui trainer Paul Belsham, and after his transfer to Chris Waller's stable in Sydney he added three further victories at Rosehill before he suffered a bleeding attack. Star Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) improved his record to 8 wins and 3 placings from 14 starts for $224,502 earnings.

So Far So Good For Smart 6YO

Wednesday, 17th August 2016

Talented Kiwi galloper Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) is making steady progress for new trainers Evan and J. J. Rayner, reports NZ Racing Desk. The talented 6YO joined the Wanganui father and daughter's stable on his return from Australia where he suffered a bleeding attack. "We haven't made any plans yet – he hasn't done any fast work, but he looks really well," Evan Rayner said. "He's a lovely horse and we're just hoping things go right for him." Start Wondering won four races for former Wanganui trainer Paul Belsham before he transferred to Chris Waller's Sydney operation where he added a further three wins to his record.

Smart Performer Back In Familiar Surroundings

Tuesday, 28th June 2016

Talented Kiwi galloper Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) has returned home from Sydney, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO won his first four races from Paul Belsham's yard before joining Chris Waller and he added a further three wins, all at Rosehill, before suffering a bleeding attack at his most recent appearance in May. With Belsham recently closing his stable, Start Wondering has joined the father and daughter team of Evan and J. J. Rayner, who have no immediate plans for the son of Eighth Wonder.

2015

Belsham Hoping For Double Strike

Friday, 4th September 2015

Paul Belsham's stable will be chasing further success on both sides of the Tasman this Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Wanganui horseman will saddle up the in-form Perfect Harmonee in the Listed Wanganui Guineas, while the 3YOs former stable-mate Start Wondering will attempt to maintain his perfect record for Sydney trainer Chris Waller in a benchmark 85 handicap at Randwick over 1400m. The winner of four of his eight New Zealand starts for Wanganui owner Steve Gudsell who also races Perfect Harmonee with Belsham, Start Wondering made an impressive Australian debut with a first-up success at Rosehill last month. He will face a sterner challenge at Randwick on Saturday, where he will meet a field that includes Kiwi-bred and owned Gr2 The Roses winner Bohemian Lily. "The report I've had from Chris was that while he is stepping up in class they still think he will be hard to beat," Belsham said. He has similar feelings about the chances of Perfect Harmonee, who kicked off his 3YO season with a maiden success at Woodville. "That first-up run will hold him in good stead against some of the fresher runners," Belsham said. "He's been working well and he's super fit. As a rule the track here doesn't get bottomless, but having said that I've never seen it so wet." he added: "He's drawn out a bit and I think that's going to be the best place to be."