Black to start classy quartet 

By Jonny Turner

Trainer Alister Black starts a seriously classy team at Winton on Thursday.

Black will not lack any horsepower when he takes four horses to the races including his stable star Vintage Cheddar.

The classy pacer’s form had dropped off for a couple of starts but he bounced back with a second behind race-rival U May Cullect in his last start in the Riverton Cup.

Though it was a strong effort, Vintage Cheddar did not quite front with the kind of form that saw him win two junior free-for-all events during New Zealand Cup week.

“I was happy enough with his run in the Riverton Cup off 40m,” Black said. 

“U May Cullect had a nice trip behind us but he had his chance to beat him.”

“And to be fair he wasn’t good enough.”

Tactics are set to play a massive part in Thursday’s race with just six runners going around.

If there are few midrace moves as per usual in races with small fields, it will be against Vintage Cheddar.

“They have got to go hard for him and he doesn’t have great gate speed anyway,” Black said.

“To be fair he probably falls out of the gate and that could be the undoing of him.”

“If they go hard he will be there, if they don’t he should still get some money.”

U May Cullect (4) is best drawn of the three big players in Thursday’s free-for-all mile (1609m), starting inside Vintage Cheddar (5) and Pembrook Playboy (6).

Both U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy have shown plenty of gate speed in the past and which horse settles in front of the other is set to play a vital part in the race finish.

Black also starts the smart pairing of Idealism and Keep On Dreaming in race 7, Thursday’s graduation final.

Keep On Dreaming opened favourite for the 2400m event having produced two smart wins in just two starts.

Though Idealism rates behind Idealism in the race market, Black has the pair much more evenly matched.

The trainer admitted he can not split the pair going into Thursday’s race.

“I honestly don’t know, this race will tell me more.”

“I do have a lot of time for both of them.”

“I couldn’t say that one is better than the other.”

“One might have a bit more ringcraft on the other, Idealism still has a bit to learn.”

“So has Keep On Dreaming but he has got everything there at his disposal.”

It is easy to see why Black rates Idealism up with Keep On Dreaming given the crushing win he produced at Winton in his last start.

Idealism ran into third in that race and Black also starts him in race 4 at Winton.

The three-year-old wound into his work nicely after being held up for much of the run home.

From barrier 1 on the second row, Ohoka Agent may not see clear air when he needs it again on Thursday.

But if he does he should prove very hard to beat.

“The draw is going to be very tricky,” Black said. 

“His last run was actually better than what it looked because he got squeezed twice coming around the last bend.”

“He is probably not one of those horses that can really hustle and bustle and push and shove yet.”

“But to his credit, he kept pacing.”

“I would think that so long as he is not too far back he won’t be a mile away.”

Matthew Williamson takes the reins behind Ohoka Agent and Keep On Dreaming on Thursday.

Nathan Williamson drives Idealism and Brent Barclay will drive Vintage Cheddar. 

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