Trainer Keith Dryden is confident handy mare Wandonna can shed her maiden status

If Wandonna wins for Keith Dryden at Moruya he won’t be taking any of the credit.

That’s because the Wandjina four-year-old mare only just arrived at his stable from the Gary Portelli yard.

“Gary’s sent her to me and he’s got 100 per cent right. I haven’t had to do much with her, just take her to the races,” Dryden said.

“I was just trying to find something a bit weaker for her than what Gary’s had her in.”

Portelli felt Wandonna would be a better chance of not only winning races but prizemoney for her owners if she went to Dryden’s Canberra operation.

There’s richer races for her under Dryden.


“She’s come to me to try and get into the Highways and compete at that level. Her future will be in the breeding barn later on if she can win a couple of Sydney races so we’re taking the easy route with that,” Dryden said.

“She’s settled in well. I haven’t done much with her but I did let her sprint up last week and let her cruise up on the bit and I’m happy enough.”

Dryden races her in a Maiden Plate (1200m) on Monday just weeks after she ran sixth at Kembla Grange for Portelli in a 1400m race.

“I think she’s going to be a miler but I’ve dropped her back to 1200m to have a look and see what her racing pattern is,” Dryden said.

“Hopefully she can scoot home over the top of them. She only got beat by 1.9 lengths at Kembla last start and Gary’s got her tuned up.”

Gary Portelli believed Wandonna would be a better suited at Keith Dryden’s Canberra operation.Source:Getty Images

Dryden kicks off his day in the first with Eltham Palace and she’s fresh off a 22-week spell after winning her last two races in April over 1000m.

She’s at that trip on Monday and will be ridden from barrier two with Blaike McDougall on again to give her the run of the race.

“I think she’ll race well again even though she likes a run to come to hand,” Dryden said.

“She did work well and she’s had one jump out, which she won, so I was happy with that.”

“The intention with her is to try and get her to the city for a midweek race. She’s got a great temperament now and isn’t over racing. She could even get to Saturday class.”


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Scarleo, in a Class 1 Handicap (1425m), is another horse Dryden has high hopes for this preparation despite an eighth placing second-up in a Highway race a fortnight ago.

“Scarleo goes all right,” he said.

“He was a bit disappointing in Sydney last start but I think he had a few excuses. He hit his hip or shoulder on the gate coming out but we can’t find anything wrong with him.

“He’s worked well since and is a horse with real potential who will step up in trip after this.

“He’s out of a good mare (Pillow Talk) who won in town.”

Sweet Knuckle is Dryden’s outsider of the day in the sixth race.

“She’s getting on a bit but we’ve kept her going and she tries hard. She is probably past her best though,” he said.

Thoroughbred action in NSW on Monday heads to Moruya and Tamworth.Source:Getty Images


By Shayne O’Cass

Cody Morgan’s ‘top seed’ for the 2020 Kosciuszko, Ligulate, will be the centre of attention in the last race at Tamworth when he steps out for the first time since winning his home-town Cup in April.

Ligulate was one of two Morgan-trained gallopers snapped up during the week by Koscuiszko slot-holders along with Ice In Vancouver, the designated up and comer of the 2020 field with two wins from two starts.

Ice In Vancouver carries a sizeable boom courtesy of his two thumping victories at Scone but Liguate has the big race experience; unlucky perhaps not to have won the 2020 Country Championship Final.

‘’Ligulate has got the runs on the board and besides Front Page (the Kosciuszko)) could be a re-run of this year’s Country Championships and there was two-lengths over 10 horses. It gets you pretty excited because I don’t think there is a massive difference between a lot of the horses that have been picked,’’ Morgan says.

Speaking of finals, Monday’s Peel Valley Tyres Open Handicap (1200m) is a long way short of the $1.3 million on offer at Royal Randwick on October 17 but Ligulate is a hard horse to beat at his home base.

‘’He is ready to go first-up,’’ Morgan said. “It is very similar to last preparation when he went close to winning without winning. Here is there to win but he has got a fair bit of improvement fitness-wise and in his coat and he is going to be last on the corner, so it’s not a high percentage play but as long as he gets home hard and can run top three we will be over the moon.’’

Ligulate races in the colours of Australian Bloodstock as does his newly recruited stablemate Brave Enough, who turned heads with a barnstorming ‘Morgan debut’ at Tamworth on August 31.

The ex-Mick Price/Michael Kent trained chestnut drew barrier 13 of 14 and was still last at the 400m ploughing home to finish fourth just a length and a bit off the winner and stablemate Anethole.

‘’I feel he’s our best chance of the day,’’ Morgan said. “It was probably one of the runs of the day and he has come on since then.’’

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Originally published asMoruya, Tamworth previews: Why trainer won’t take credit

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