Harness racing trainer Wayne Higgs believes smart four year pacer Motu Cup Day Cullen is now ready to fulfill his true potential. The son of Christian Cullen couldn't have been more impressive when winning by three and a quarter lengths at the Winton Harness Racing Club's meeting held today (Sunday) at Central Southland Raceway.
It was the gelding's second win in as many weeks, and while the ease of today's win may have surprised a few, it came as no shock to his Redwood trainer who has always held the horse in high regard.
"Todd (Woodward) and I agree there really isn't much between him and Reklaws Chance, but with the problems that he's had, we haven't been able to train the way a race-horse needs to be trained," Higgs said. Those problems stem from early days in the career of Motu Cup Day Cullen, who is raced on lease by Higgs from North Canterbury breeder George Timperley. "He broke down soon after we got him and had to be turned out for nine months. It was a shame because we had him ready to win."
A winning debut at Westport twelve months later came as no surprise to Higgs or punters who sent the in-experienced horse out second favourite, even given his lack of public appearances. "He's actually had very few trials or workouts because we've had to protect and look after him, any real fast-work he does is simply on race-day. His training program is very different to how you would normally train a horse. It consists of mostly strength work and pulling a heavy cart. Most of his career he's probably been performing at around 70% of his ability, it's only been up till recently that we've been able to up his work-load, and give him a more natural approach."
"He's still very green and in-experienced, but he is slowly becoming a real racehorse," Higgs says. Motu Cup Day Cullen will need to continue to improve over the next few weeks, with Higgs looking to up the ante and against some quality opposition. "Ray Faithful has been doing a good job looking after him down South for us, and we'll probably keep him down there for one more start next week in the four year old race at Forbury. Dexter won't be driving him though, it's a stand-start race and there's no better exponent at stepping a horse than Todd Woodward, so Dex is off and Todds on," Higgs said with a rye smile.
Safely through the Group Three 4YO & 5YO Championship, Motu Cup Day Cullen will travel North to race at Alexandra Park, with a possible start against the country's leading four year old pacers. "He will head to Auckland regardless, and if he continues to improve we just might give him a start in the Taylor Mile or the Messenger."
In other highlights today talented young reinsman Adam Sanderson drove three winners, while the Ben Waldron trained Van Washing Man returned to form with a comprehensive win in the Winton Cup. The son ofwas recording his sixth win and was driven by Ricky May.
Top Sire:2 wins.
Top Trainer: Ross Wilson/ Dave and Cath Butt 2 wins.
Top Driver: Adam Sanderson 3 wins.
Top Junior Driver: Adam Sanderson 3 wins.
Results from the Winton Harness Racing Club's meeting held today (Sunday) were:
Race 1: The Phil Williamson trained SPRINGBANK SAM () Matty Williamson.
Race 2: The Ross Wilson trained JERRY FITZ () Adam Sanderson.
Race 3: The Murray Gray trained JACCKA JACK () Johnny Cox.
Race 4: The Cran Dalgety trained KRISTINA (Bettor's Delight) Dexter Dunn.
Race 5: The Wayne Higgs trained MOTU CUP DAY CULLEN () Dexter Dunn.
Race 6: The Dave and Cath Butt trained MY MEI () Bob Butt.
Race 7: The Brendan McLellan trained and driven SUPREME SIGN ().
Race 8: The Ross Wilson trained VON REGAL () Adam Sanderson.
Race 9: The Ben Waldron trained VAN WASHING MAN () Ricky May.
Race 10: The Dave and Cath Butt trained JEN MARIE () Bob Butt.
Race 11: The Robert Gorman trained UNCLE REMY () Adam Sanderson.