Southland – U May Cullect
It was one of those stellar days that don’t come along very often.
Trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis geared up four winners today at Ascot Park for Southland’s Diamonds Day – the premier race day of the season.
The ‘quaddie’ of wins was spearheaded by the stable’s glamour pacer, the unbeaten U May Cullect which stole the show.
The partnership which is only in its first season, has recorded two wins in a day twice before, but this was a milestone on another level.
Today Barclay wasn’t sure if she’d let U May Cullect press forward from the outside of the front line, stating that the horse would make up its own mind and she would just be the passenger.
The horse was keen and Barclay let him roll forward from the outside of the gate.
From that point Barclay was in for the ride, and the five year old cruised down to the line for another emphatic win, beating My Georgie Boy by six and a half-lengths running the 2200 metre mobile in an impressive 2-41.9.
It’s likely this will be the gelding’s last start for the season as the connections have some bigger plans for him next season.
“Kirstin and Tank are making a plan and they’re talking about not racing him again because we’re hoping to get to the Cup. If we turn him out now he can come back for the likes of the Hannon and he’ll be off the front,” said owner Tom Kilkelly.
U May Cullect is eligible for a Super Nuggets Final in a weeks’ time but he’s unlikely to front.
“I’ve got a nice paddock for him locked up. Kirstin will look after him. I find you don’t want to treat them with kid gloves because that’s when things can go wrong. I don’t want him wrapped up in cotton wool.”
Kilkelly has raced some nice horses over the years including Guns N Roses and Shard Ark but he says U May Cullect is another level. He says he’s starting to feel the pressure that goes with owning a good horse which is unbeaten.
“Today I did get nervous. I don’t normally, but today in the last few minutes before the race I did because everyone was talking him up and he’s got a lot to live up to now.”
He said the horse continues to get better.
“They worked him on Wednesday and Kirstin said he worked better than before he went to Christchurch. Tank said his resting heart rate after the run was down to 40. The best I had a horse down to when I was training was 60 to 65 –they don’t come back to 40. So that just shows you the size of the heart. He’s special.”
On his return to the birdcage U May Cullect received applause from the Southern Harness fans who generally reserve it for the very best.
Kilkelly says although his name is in the race book as the owner he would like to think the province will also share in the success U May Cullect is having.
“We could have taken him further north but he’s a Southland horse. He’s not mine he’s ours. I said to Mick Guerin (Northern Journalist and Trackside Presenter) three things. He’s not for sale, he’s staying on the beach with Kirstin and Tank and Kirstin drives him. I said to him there’s a tar sealed road between Invercargill and Christchurch now.”
The prefect day was capped for Kilkelly when Chuckles won the last race. It was a very good aggressive drive by Barclay. From barrier five she speared the Grinfromeartoear gelding to the top. She handed the lead to Flaming Jim with 1600 metres to run. Flaming Jim was then attacked by hotshot Justasec which eventually made the lead with a lap to run. That battle certainly played into Chuckles hands as the trailing horse. With 800 metres to run Barclay pulled Chuckles out from three back on the inside but her progress was halted as he locked wheels with Flaming Jim. However she got going again and at the 400 metres Barclay was dishing it up to Justasec. On straightening Chuckles proved too tough for Justasec, winning by three and a half lengths.
Earlier in the day the Barclay/Ellis stable scored an upset win in the Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot when Wee Man Trouble beat higher assessed horses.
With 400 metres to run driver Blair Orange could see that some of the back markers had a bit of ground to make up on the leader De Vito so he popped out of the trailing position and pinched a five length break on the bulk of the field. It proved to be the winning of the race. Wee Man Trouble held on to beat a late charging War Admiral by a length.
The win elevates Wee Man Trouble to seventh on the leader board for the $125,000 Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.
The stable’s other winner was Paddyproudfoot.
Driver Kirstin Barclay once again used her horse’s gate speed and from barrier six the Washington VC gelding was taken straight to the top. With a lap to run she handed up to the second favourite Pitch Perfect. On straightening for the run home Pitch Perfect got away by two lengths but Paddyproudfoot came resolutely down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter.
Meanwhile other winners on the day included Full Noise which wore down a brave Neverneverland in the Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Trot.
The win puts the Majestic Son gelding in the top twelve in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Ruby.
Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr brought the majority of his team south but walked away with only one win. It came in race two with Change Is Good which was driven by Nathan Williamson.
Nathan Williamson got the perfect sit behind pacemaker Bridesdale Robyn in the Foveaux Communication Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. At the top of the straight he got the passing lane run to win by a length and a quarter.
Vintage Cheddar scored a well-deserved win in the Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace. Driver Brad Williamson tucked the four year old in behind leader Santanna’s Rocket which took him to the passing lane. Vintage Cheddar which is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and trained by Alister Black made full use of the lane to beat Smokin By by a length and three quarters.