Barclay’s dream weekend
By Jonny Turner
Kirstin Barclay capped a dream weekend when U May Cullect dug deep to win the Riverton Cup just hours after Watch Me Now landed the trainer-driver her first Group One victory.
Racing first-up and off a massive 40m handicap was not enough to stop the U May Cullect from getting the better of runner-up Vintage Cheddar to win the Ascot Park feature on Saturday.
Barclay’s first thoughts after completing her epic double were not about making plans to get back to Addington so that U May Cullect could follow up Watch Me Now’s feature race victory.
All the trainer-driver is hoping for is to be greeted by a happy and sound horse when the weekend is over.
“I am just hoping that when I bring him out of the paddock on Monday morning he is sound,” Barclay said.
“He felt like he pulled up good and he went to the paddock bucking and kicking.”
“I am hopeful that we are on the right track now.”
Barclay gave the injury-plagued U May Cullect every possible hope in his first run since the Kaikoura Cup, finding him a sweet run on the back on Vintage Cheddar.
Sling-shotting off his rival’s back on the home turn, the seven-year-old’s condition blew out after a track record speed was set up.
But U May Cullect dug deep to win under Barclay’s urgings.
“He hit the wall 50m out from the post, he was tired, which he was entitled to be in record time.”
“But he dug in.”
“I would have been happy to run second to Vintage Cheddar, he is a lovely horse, I would have been thrilled.”
“But to win was such a bonus.”
U May Cullect stopped the clock in 3.17.9, eclipsing the 3.19.8 Ascot Park track record for 2700m his Riverton Cup rival Robyns Playboy set earlier this season.
Addington features are not on Barclay and training partner Tank Ellis’ agenda even if U May Cullect emerges in fine fettle from his Riverton Cup win.
Taking on open class horses will not be considered until the pacer refines his standing start manners.
“I just really want to stay down home at the moment and just get the standing starts nailed,” Barclay said.
“Because to go up to Christchurch again, we can’t miss away, he has got to get the standing starts right.”
Even after U May Cullect’s win, Barclay was still coming to terms with the fact that she was now a Group One winning trainer and driver after Watch Me Now’s win in the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes.
“I actually still can’t believe it, it still doesn’t feel real.”
“The dream at the start of the week was to finish on a high note with Watch Me Now.”
“To achieve that dream for her owners and everything, it still doesn’t feel real.”
Barclay’s maiden Group One win was made more emotional by the mare being sold to North American interest before Friday night’s race.
When Watch Me Now left the track it was potentially the last time Barclay was going to see her in New Zealand.
But the trainer-driver plans to make one last visit to see her this week.
“I followed her out to the float and had a wee cuddle with her.”
“I must say there were a few tears.”
“I am going to go up to the sales, I think she is up there a wee bit longer so I am going to shoot out and see her again.”
U May Cullect’s victory capped a big Riverton Cup day day for his owner Tom Kilkelly, who also won with the Chuckles from the Craig Ferguson stable.