News & Events

Stunin Cullen returns at Addington tonight


By Michael Guerin

Anthony Butt says he won’t be scared to put the curse of the comeback to one side at Addington tonight.

Which is the only tip punters need to jump on Stunin Cullen in the opening leg of the $100,000 terminating Pick6.

The Hunter Cup winner returns to the races for the first time in 17 months in the $12,500 main pace, in which he faces a 20m handicap over the 2600m.

Considering he has won $1.46million and is racing journeyman pacers he would win easily if race fit, or anywhere near his peak. But he has only trialled twice since illness last March then injury last spring combined to keep him away from the races just when he looked set to fulfil his enormous potential.

The problem with backing horses who have had such long layoffs is often their drivers are often too kind to them, being reluctant to make mid-race moves and assert their superiority for the fear of jeopardising the richer targets later in the campaign. That can be a curse for punters, who take short odds on the best horse in the race, only for it to sit close to last and storm home for a frustrating placing.

Butt says it doesn’t have to be that way for Stunin Cullen tonight.

“Sure, these races can be tricky but I won’t be scared to use him if I have to,” said Butt.

“The bottom line is clearly he in the best horse in the race and if they start stuffing around up front I won’t be scared to go forward and lead.

“He is so fast if I do that they won’t be quick enough to hold him out.”

In that scenario Stunin Cullen would win.

But there is also the other option of his opponents off the front line driving to beat him by keeping the pace on, forcing Butt to sit back and then punters needing something special for the favourite to get up.

“That could happen too and often does in these sort of races,” admits Butt.

“The best advice I can give punters is that he is as ready as he can be without a race and we are there to win.”

Translated into odds-speak, that means $1.50 is too short, $1.80 is fair and $2-plus would be glorious. The obvious danger is Artiface, who is a strange but talented horse who would be very hard to catch if he led. But if he was able to get there then Stunin Cullen, who starts alongside him, should be pulled into the race too. Butt says his only other stable representative for the night could be the first leg of a winning double.

“I have Gregory R in race two and he has to be hard to beat.

“He was good enough to start against the best three-year-old trotters last season and won well last start.

“He will be even better this week from behind the mobile and isn’t finished winning yet.”

One of the other highlights of the first serious harness meeting of the new season is race eight, in which an array of in-form lower grade stars is headed by Beach Bunny, although he faces a tricky draw over 1950m. And class trotter Ima Gold Digger, The Fiery Ginga and Leighton Hest clash in race 10.

The meeting also sees the return of champion driver Dexter Dunn for the first time at home this season after spending the last three weeks in Melbourne.