Cradle Mountain to step up to city grade

Chris Barclay
The Kris Lees-trained Karavali is among a good book of rides for jockey Jason Collett at Randwick

Sir Barb will always hold a special place in trainer Clare Cunningham's heart although she also holds the second horse to join her stable in high esteem.

While Cunningham, previously the Sydney foreman for now-retired trainer Peter Moody, had a proven performer in Sir Barb when the gelding was bought via an internet auction after 16 starts, Cradle Mountain has been with the Warwick Farm trainer from the start.

A $4000 yearling at the 2015 Scone sale, the lightly raced four-year-old makes the step up to metropolitan grade in the Beersheba Handicap (1200m) at Randwick on Wednesday.

Cradle Mountain has earned a start in Sydney following an unbeaten preparation featuring wins at Goulburn, Canberra and Kembla Grange ahead of a spell in early January.

Cunningham's partner Jason Collett has been aboard for each of Cradle Mountain's five starts and is confident he can justify his favouritism.

"He's the second horse to join Clare's stable and when he turned up he looked rough," Collett said.

"He was a diamond that needed polishing and now we think a bit of him. He's got the ability and he goes well.

"He's got good barrier speed, but he doesn't have to lead,."

Cradle Mountain has had one barrier trial over 807m at Warwick Farm on April 8, when he beat consistent Joe Pride-trained mare Pecans to the line by six lengths.

"That was a good hit-out and now this is the next step up," Collett said.

Collett's book of seven rides also features the Kris Lees-trained Group-winning mare Karavali who is attempting to bounce back from an unusually poor run in the the Group Three Epona Stakes at Rosehill on March 24.

Despite being beaten eight lengths, Karavali was the $5.50 second elect with the TAB on Tuesday behind Godolphin's Drochaid ($5).

"Her trial looked fine. She had a bit of a canter and she goes back to Randwick where she has a good record," Collett said.

Collett also rides two-year-old gelding Commander and filly Bring Me Showers in their first starts for trainer John Thompson in the Armistice Plate (1200m) and Unconquered Plate (1200m) respectively.