U May Cullect to return today at Winton
By Jonny Turner
The task Southland sensation U May Cullect faces in his first step towards the New Zealand Cup at Winton on Sunday would be daunting for any ordinary horse.
But, one thing is certain ahead of the unbeaten pacer’s resumption – he is no ordinary horse.
U May Cullect will give four of his fellow New Zealand Cup nominees a head start when he begins from the 50m back mark in a 2400m handicap.
It is clear the start of the event will be crucial for the Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis trained 6yr-old.
“The handicap over a mile and a half will be pretty tough,” Barclay said.
“As long as he steps away, that is the main concern.”
“We are just trying to make sure that when he lines up on even terms with a field he will step away nicely.”
Barclay plans to drive U May Cullect for one run after she asks him to step away from the 50m mark.
Part of that tactic is help the horse gain more race experience and tractability among horses, before the New Zealand Cup.
In his last start at Addington, U May Cullect’s greenness meant he hesitatated when asked to take the passing lane and it could have cost him the race.
“As you saw at Addington he was quite unsure about taking the passing lane and going inside a horse,” Barclay said.
“So, Tank and I have been talking about it and we want to drive him with a sit take those inside runs.”
“He is pretty green, he has had only had seven starts and he has either led or come around them.”
“It is all about education, really, and getting him more tractable in the field.”
U May Cullect has not made a public appearance at the trials or workouts ahead of his return to racing.
However, he had done enough work in training to be highly competitive on Sunday.
“He wintered up really well, he had three weeks off and he put on a stack of condition.”
“We are really happy with him, and he has been working well.”
New Zealand Cup nominees Franco Santino (20m), Robyns Playboy (20m), Sagwitch (30m) and Airpark Flyer (40m) each get a head start on U May Cullect on Sunday.
Franco Santino, who beat an inferior field at Gore in his last start, is the only of the five cup contenders to go in Sunday with the benefit of recent racing.
Airpark Flyer has had one trial and workout ahead of his resumption.
In the first of those, the Trent Yesberg trained pacer finished just a neck behind Maurice Holmes Vase winner, Classie Brigade.
Robyns Playboy goes in to the race after running second in a sedate Gore workout.
Sagwitch has not stepped out at the trials or workouts ahead of his resumption.
The feature trot at the Winton meeting, which will also be run over 2400m and under handicap conditions, feature the return of talented squaregaiter Picketts Ridge.
The 6yr-old, who has had two workouts ahead of his return, will start from 30m in his first start since November, last year.
Picketts Ridge clashes with Davey Mac (front), Rydgemont Son (10m), Imran Khan (20m) and Wee Man Trouble (40m).