Puzzling Wonder eyes off Muswellbrook Cup after Kayuga Cup triumph

IMPRESSIVE: Dubbo apprentice Chris Williams guides Puzzling Wonder to victory in the Kayuga Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on Tuesday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY
IMPRESSIVE: Dubbo apprentice Chris Williams guides Puzzling Wonder to victory in the Kayuga Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on Tuesday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY

THE Mack Griffith-trained Puzzling Wonder will progress on to the Aberdeen Cup (1450m) on Sunday, November 5, then possibly the Muswellbrook Cup in December following his easy win at Muswellbrook on Tuesday.

Puzzling Wonder, given a near perfect ride by Dubbo apprentice Chris Williams, won the Kayuga Cup (1450m) in a great lead-up to the next two Muswellbrook features.

“He spent the last week at Scone with Jenny Butler on the water walker and they did a great job with him,” Griffith said.

“He will go back there until the Aberdeen Cup.

“The horse is fit and loves the water walker, but he will do a little bit of work on the track as well.

“After the Aberdeen Cup we will think about the Muswellbrook Cup.

“It is definitely in the back of our minds.”

Griffith made an important gear change going into the Kayuga Cup, taking the blinkers off the horse and putting the nose roll back on.

He put blinkers on the horse for the Anniversary Highway, but Puzzling Wonder ran 10th after refusing to settle.

“It was my mistake, he won’t wear them again,” Griffith said.

“Chris did a great job on him, a 10 out of 10 ride.”

Williams settled Puzzling Wonder in third place on the fence with Next Level setting the pace in front.

At the top of the straight Williams pushed Puzzling Wonder through on the inside of the leader then held off a fast finishing Annandale Lass to win by a length.

The $100,000 M R S Services Group Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) will be run on Friday, December 8.

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THE $50,000 Skellatar Sprint (1000m) on Muswellbrook Cup day is the ultimate target for the Andrew Robinson-trained Mac’s Reward following his strong win in the Muswellbrook Security Services Benchmark 55 (1000m).

The win was a big boost to the Muswellbrook-based Robinson who set up his stable 12 months ago after working with Greg Bennett for the previous three years.

It was also a reflection on his training skills to be able to get the horse back to winning so strongly after a setback. 

“He had a bit of a set back and something wasn’t quite right,” Robinson said.

“After he ran eighth here at his last start I sent him up to Scone to the water walker to freshen him up and it did wonders for him.

“He is a talented horse over 1000 metres or 1100 metres and he has carried 60.5kg today and was really strong on the line.

“I would like to have him at his peak for cup day and target a race like the Skellatar Sprint.”

Van Der Werf settled Mac’s Reward in fourth place early before taking control in the straight to win by two lengths.

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TRAINER Paul Messara was on his way to Japan when Roseito, ridden by Claire Nutman, came from second last to win the Magic Millions Coming Soon Class One (1280m).

The race was the third heat of the Rising Star Series for apprentices and the win put Nutman on seven points, and in equal third place with Rachael King.

Jean Van Overmeire (10 points) leads from Courtney Van Der Werf (8).

Roseito came from second last, circled the field from the 600 metres and was running away from the rest in the straight. 

She was having her first start since running third on a heavy track over 2000 metres at Randwick in June and before that ran fifth in a Highway Hcp at Rosehill at her fourth start.

“She is a lovely filly and that was a great effort first up and she will be better as she gets over more ground,” foreman Leah Gavranich said.

“Paul is in the air on his way to Japan so this win will be a nice surprise for him when he lands.

“The filly will go back to Sydney now for another Highway.”

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HAWKESBURY trainer Mitch Newman rated Muswellbrook as one of his favourite tracks after landing a double with Miss Casier in the Arrowfield Maiden (900m) and Sulien in the Muswellbrook Cup 8th December Maiden (1280m).

Both horses were ridden by Josh Adams and while Miss Casier won easily Sulien had to survive a photo finish. 

It was Newman’s first double as a trainer and came almost 12 months after he came within a photo finish of achieving the same result.

“I almost got a double here at Muswellbrook on Melbourne Cup day last year but the second leg was beaten in a photo,” he said.

“I thought it was going to be a repeat of that outcome with this photo because it was so close.”

Josh Adams, a close mate of Newman’s, rode both.

“I have trained a lot of winners here, this track has been really good to me,” Newman said.

“Whenever I bring horses here they always win or race well.”

Adams allowed Miss Casier to settle in second place behind Island Gem, went to the lead in the straight and won easily in a time just outside the class record.

Adams was confident about the chance of Sulien going into his race.

“Sulien worked with Miss Casier the other morning and beat her which gave me a lot of confidence following her win,” he said.

“He is a nice, big strong horse and I think he will win over more ground.”

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THE David Atkins-trained Kulnura had an unusual warm up before scoring a two length win in the Coolmore Maiden (1500m).

Kulnura, the favourite, dislodged jockey Aaron Bullock behind the starting gates and cantered the reverse way past the winning post before cantering back to the start and being caught.

The horse passed a veterinary examination and was allowed to start, to the surprise of a lot of people. But it proved to be the right decision.

“I didn’t think he had taken any harm because he only cantered,” Bullock said.

“He was sweating up behind the gates and I asked one of the barrier staff for a towel and as I reached out for it the horse went sideways at100 miles an hour and there was no way I could stay on him.”

Bullock settled Kulnura in third place early before getting a split in the straight and going on to win by two lengths.

***

A PLAN put together by Wyong trainer Ben Hill and jockey Shaun Guymer came to fruition when Sunday Swindler scored a last stride win in the Horsepower Class One and Maiden (1750m).

The horse was previously trained by David Atkins and won a Newcastle maiden for him at its first start and ran thirds at Newcastle and Taree.

After the Taree run the horse was spelled and sent to Hill.

Hill gave him three starts at Newcastle over shorter distances to get him ready for this race.

“He was back to his class and over the right distance and that was the plan,” he added.

Guymer said the fast-early pace had played into his hands.

“He started like a rocket but settled and was able to finish the race off,” he said.

The favourite Capebeel (Christian Reith) set a solid pace and looked set to lead all the way until Sunday Swindler grabbed the lead on the line.

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A DROP back from provincial to country grade proved a winning move for Wyong trainer Les Tilley when Our Tax Return (Robert Thompson) won the Godolphin Benchmark 55 (1450m).

At his previous start Our Tax Return ran second last in a Class One at Gosford when ridden by Robbie Dolan.

However, in this race Thompson, who has combined with Tilley over many years for a lot of success, was back aboard.

He trailed the pace to the turn, switched to the inside to get the cutaway then gradually reeled in the leader, the Les Roberts-trained Armageddon On It.

That horse ran a great race in attempting to lead all the way and fought back gamely when challenged by the winner.