Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood have experienced a stellar first season in partnership and they are hoping to continue that success when they line up Rondinella in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The four-year-old daughter of Ocean Park has been in great form this year, having won or placed in all six starts.
She has been particularly impressive in her past three starts, having finished runner-up in the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m) in February and then showed her class with third placings in the G1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) behind Melody Belle and Danzdanzdance, and the G1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill last month behind Avilius and Big Duke.
“It is good form, it’s all Group form and all on tracks that were basically against her, because they were all rain-affected,” James said.
“I thought it was enormous (her run in the Tancred Stakes last start). It was well publicised how bad the track was. Avilius is unbeaten in Sydney and I think unbeaten on Heavy tracks, so to run him that close I thought the run was tremendous.”
Rondinella was initially set for a hit-and-run mission in Sydney but after her gutsy run in the Tancred Stakes her connections elected to leave her there to see how she pulled up after the race.
“Initially we were coming home, but then the owners said you can make a better decision by leaving her here for a week rather than putting her on the plane and look at the whole situation then,” he added.
“That’s what we did and I have to say she has thrived.”
James has been pleased with his mare in the lead-up to Saturday but admits there are still a few questions to be answered in her final hit-out of the season.
“I am very happy with her,” he said. “At the back of my mind I wonder if she is six months away from full maturity, it’s also a bit of an unknown whether she will get the two miles.”
Rondinella will jump from the ace barrier on Saturday and jockey Sam Clipperton has been granted permission to carry 52kg if he cannot make the allocated 51kg minimum.
“I thought Robert did a good job there. He did the barrier draw and came up with the one,” James said. “Sam Clipperton said ‘at least we will only be going 3200m, not 3250m’.”