Evan Rayner clearly thinks Start Wondering is the best horse he has trained, but in an extremely emotional moment he couldn't quite find the words.

He had just won the $200,000 Sistema Railway with the horse and off to the side was daughter JJ crying her eyes out with tears of joy and the words were not coming out quite the way he wanted.

The Wanganui horseman and his training partner daughter were entitled to be excited.

They prepared Start Wondering at the beginning of his career and after outstanding form the horse was sent to Sydney to be trained by Chris Waller.


After a bleeding attack in a race in Sydney, Star Wondering was returned home and re-entered the Rayner Stable.

"When you win a race like this you realise just how good this horse is," said Evan Rayner. "He's such a treat to train. The only trick he's got is if you don't know him and give him a kick when he's paceworking, he'll take off.

"But he's a lovely animal."

What a difference six days make. When Johnathan Parkes pushed his way through the Ellerslie crowd on Boxing Day he was well aware he hadn't ridden a winner at New Zealand's famous track.

He scored on Boxing Day on Volpe Veloce in the Eight Carat Classic that day and yesterday rode the double of the two features, St Jean in the $200,000 City Of Auckland Cup and Star Wondering in the $200,000 Railway.

This is a rider who at one point turned his back on racing. Today there are few more dedicated riders, but he does it tough with his weight.

Asked what he had eaten all day he said: "I've managed to have a small drink out of a bottle."

Railway winners often struggle with big weights after winning this race, but Start Wondering may not be restricted to just 1200m.

"He won twice at 1600m in Australia," said Rayner, "so that may be his future."

Parkes believes the athletic 6-year-old will stretch to 1600m. "He might win a group one 1600m."

Last year's Railway winner Ryan Mark was withdrawn after cantering to the start. He has had a history of leg and feet problems and very firm tracks do not suit.