The longer an unbeaten run keeps going, the more paranoid one tends to get about the next run seeing it come a cropper – but trainer Shane ‘Stretch’ Baertschiger has a different spin on Wonderful’s hot streak.
“He’s done an amazing job with five from five since he moved to us,” said the Australian handler of the Hidden Dragon five-year-old who could not find the line for trainer Mark Walker in six starts, but still fared well by finishing out of the placings only once.
“I just hope the good run keeps going this Sunday. After what he has already accomplished for us, any more win would be a bonus, but the horse has thrived and is going really well at the moment.
Wonderful (John Powell, on the inside) wins his fifth race at Kranji on January 30, picture Singapore Turf Club
“He trialled good last Thursday (second to The Nutcracker) and JP (John Powell) galloped him this morning and he went really well.”
The Macau-owned gelding (raced by Lai Chan Cheong whose orange and yellow silks are a common sight in Sydney, mostly with champion trainer Chris Waller) faces some stiff opponents in Sunday’s $100,000 Open Benchmark 97 race over 1100m on Polytrack, the surface over which he has recorded all his wins thus far, but Baertschiger is quite confident he can measure up, especially with the heavyweight Powell staying in the saddle.
“There are some good horses in this Benchmark 97 race but the highest rated horse (Sebas) is on 89 and as he is on 87, he is not carrying a low weight – 58kgs, and that’s why Johnny can ride him,” said Baertschiger.
“So, it’s a pretty even field he’s tackling and I think he has his chance. The barrier draw (4) is also good as he’s a pretty versatile horse and doesn’t have to lead.
“From that gate, JP can work out where to posie him up. It’d be great if he can make it six-in-a-row.”
At one stage, Baertschiger did toy with the idea of running Wonderful in the Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) on Polytrack on March 5, but changed his mind, and in the end ran only Lincoln Road, who could only finish seventh to Infantry in the first Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series.
“We did look at the Merlion Trophy for Wonderful as the trip and surface were ideal for him,” he explained.
“But at the handicap, he would have found it tough. It’s a weight-for-age race and he would have been on level terms with horses like Infantry, Wimbledon, etc.
“I decided to go for the softer option this Sunday, and I think he will be a lot more competitive in such a race.”
Wonderful already showed his potential when he was known as Expectation in Sydney where he won one race from only one start for Waller, at Canterbury in a 1200m race under champion jockey Hugh Bowman. He gained A$23,025 from that win but has now multiplied that more than tenfold to close to $280,000 locally.