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In-form gelding Cisco Bay will chase his first stakes win in the Winter Challenge

A back-to-basics approach is paying dividends with Cisco Bay, whose recent vein of form has earned him a shot at black-type grade.

The horse had been through three stables before he was transferred to Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou at the start of the season and took several runs to hit his straps.

His first six start for them yielded a couple of minor placings but no wins, prompting Ryan to rethink their strategy and make some adjustments.

“He came to us with a bit of head gear and all that on, so I left it on, and we were nearly at our wit’s end with him because he was just running the same races all the time,” Ryan said.

“We decided to take everything off him and we took him to Nowra for the Cup and he won and he hasn’t run a bad race since.”

In a display of his durability, Cisco Bay had 11 runs for his new trainers last preparation and he has not finished further back than fourth since Ryan removed his gear.

He kicked off his latest preparation with a stylish win at Randwick last month and worked to the line late when third behind Oscar Zulu at Rosehill at his most recent appearance.

He is set to head back to his home track on Saturday for the Listed Winter Challenge (1500m), although Ryan will make a final decision on a start closer to race day.

“The only thing is you get a bit worried that if they run a place in a race like this, they will get hammered in the ratings and then they’re hard to place,” he said.

“But he’s going good and deserves a crack at it, on his home track with 53 kilos on his back.

“He’s a very happy horse and he has come back really well.”

Chris Waller has dominated the Winter Challenge winning five of its eight renewals and he again has a strong hand this year with Sambro and True Detective.

 
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