Mercurial pacer holds out rivals in cup

Majestic Man (6) fends off the challenge of Kings Landing to win the group 3 Southern Lights Trot...
Majestic Man (6) fends off the challenge of Kings Landing to win the group 3 Southern Lights Trot at Ascot Park on Saturday. PHOTO: BRUCE STEWART
The wayward tendencies of Henry Hubert showed again in the group 3 Northern Southland Cup at Ascot Park on Saturday but the gelding was good enough to overcome them, even after galloping for about 100m at the start.

"He just panics," driver John Dunn said.

The problem also emerged when he was hot favourite on his first visit to Ascot Park, in January of last year.

After losing considerable ground, he finished out of the placings. He won his next start and

was later gelded.

"He's always had plenty of ability and was good enough to run fifth in the derby after that," Dunn said.

Henry Hubert went north and in three starts from behind the mobile recorded a win, second and fourth.

"He goes good at Alexandra Park. He'll go back there this year for the Messenger and Taylor Mile."

Prior to that, the Bettors Delight 4yr-old will be tested at group 1 level against all ages in the Easter Cup.

Foremost in Dunn's mind will be getting him away on terms with the field. The horse clearly has the class to do the rest.

Despite steering Spellbound to win two group 3 juvenile filly features six days apart, Dunn is still waiting to give her an ideal run.

"You can't waste a good draw in a small field," he said, after adding the $30,000 Caduceus Club of Southland and Alabar Fillies Classic on Saturday to her Leonard Memorial at Addington last weekend.

"I think she would be better making just one run though."

Dunn said the filly will have a short break now before returning for a Sires Stakes heat and the Jewels.

The 5yr-old U May Cullect, who clocked 2min 41.2sec when winning on debut on Saturday by four lengths, was nearly sold by his Invercargill owner Tom Kilkelly.

"He won a workout as a 3yr-old. I was offered $50,000 for him from Sydney and the next day he popped a tendon," said Kilkelly, who had acquired the half-brother to Victoria May as a weanling at an Auckland mixed sale.

"We brought him back at 4 and he went again so I gave him longer out on a hill break at Riverton."

Winning driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay was quick to credit the recovery of U May Cullect to the time her training partner, Paul Ellis, devotes to the horse at their Oreti Beach headquarters.

Majestic Man displayed a dynamic new dimension and possibly booked a passage to the Rowe Cup in Auckland through his half-head victory in the group 3 Southern Lights Trot.

Driver Brad Williamson had the 4yr-old midfield on the outer early before taking him up to force the issue with favourite and leader Kings Landing.

Majestic Man took the lead at the 1600m and had enough in reserve to hold off the passing-lane challenge of the All Stars stable rep.

"He was a good 3yr-old but he couldn't have done that last year," trainer Phil Williamson said.

Majestic Man will head now to the 4 and 5yr-old trotting championship at Addington before going to the Rowe Cup.

"He has raced twice at Alexandra Park for two seconds to Winterfell and prefers that way of going."

Williamson has won Rowe Cups before but not with a 4yr-old. He has also won five of the 12 runnings of the Southern Lights Trot as a trainer, including with Monty Python in 2017.

Monty Python was raced by the Griffins Syndicate, as is Majestic Man.

Ross Wilson produced Robyn's Treasure to win the New Zealand Oaks in 1994 but has never had runner in the derby. After relative Robyns Playboy led for the closing 1600m of the $20,000 Caduceus Club of Southland Super Nugget Final on Saturday, Wilson confirmed the derby will be the gelding's next start.

"He's got to make the field yet and I don't think he would beat Ultimate Sniper, but it would be good to have a runner."

Longshot Swiss Miss scored an upset win in the $20,000 Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks in a smart 2min 47.9sec.

The Gavin Smith-trained filly, driven by Nathan Williamson, sat last of the five runners left in contention from the start before unleashing in the straight.

"Gavin's got her humming," Williamson said.


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