Racing: Stunin Cullen out of series

By Michael Guerin

Stunin Cullen (13) was superb winning the Hunter Cup last month. Photo / Harness Racing Victoria
Stunin Cullen (13) was superb winning the Hunter Cup last month. Photo / Harness Racing Victoria

Hunter Cup winner Stunin Cullen is the biggest casualty of the Interdominions, further weakening the New Zealand defence.

The speed machine was pulled out of the series, which starts at Alexandra Park in nine days, at final acceptance time yesterday.

He joins De Lovely, Gomeo Romeo and open class mare Nearea Franco as the pacing withdrawals.

And his scratching effectively ends his season after a recurrence of the breathing problem which cost him much of last season.

"He has starting flipping his palate again," driver Anthony Butt confirmed to the Herald.

"That would explain why he has gone so bad the last two runs but the timing could hardly be worse.

"He could be anything if he could stay right and we are still hoping we can get him over this but that will be next season."

Stunin Cullen needed an operation to overcome a similar problem last season and returned to be one of our stars this term.

But his withdrawal along with the downturn in form for horses such as Auckland Reactor and Monkey King will see an Australian domination when the new Interdominion markets come out today.

The TAB will reopen its markets this morning after closing them and refunding all bets when the series was moved from quake-stricken Christchurch to Alexandra Park.

And while the pacing favouritism will mirror the Auckland Cup result, the trotting series will see long-time top fancy Sundon's Gift replaced by his stablemate Let Me Thru.

TAB harness bookmaker Steve Richardson says he will open Let Me Thru, who won his Alexandra Park debut last Friday, around $4 to win the Interdominion final, which will be held on April 8.

"He was very impressive last week and he has to be the favourite but the market will be very even," said Richardson.

Stablemate and two-time Interdominion champion Sundon's Gift will be the $4.50 second favourite with Sovereignty, who should have beaten them both last Friday, on the next line of betting.

That leaves plenty of percentage in the market for some very good trotters such as I Can Doosit, Stylish Monarch, Raydon and Ima Gold Digger, without even considering Swedish mare Annicka, who remains unsighted since arriving in New Zealand.

The pacing market sees Themightyquinn set to open around a $4 favourite today, with Mr Feelgood at $5. "They were both pretty good in the Auckland Cup and deserve to be the favourites," said Richardson.

But that leaves the TAB having to push out traditional favourites for New Zealand punters in Auckland Reactor, Monkey King and Smiling Shard.

And still the complication of pricing Blacks A Fake, who arrives in Auckland at 3am on Friday, and Smoken Up, who looks back to his best and is well known to New Zealand punters.

The move from Christchurch to Auckland forcing the cancellation of all bets from the previous fixed odds market is looking a blessing for most Kiwi punters because plenty had taken short odds around Auckland Reactor and Monkey King.

While most won't want to reinvest now, those brave enough to do so will get significantly better odds.

NOT SO STUNIN

* Stunin Cullen is the big loss from the Interdominions.
* He has suffered a recurrence of his breathing problem.
* His withdrawal leaves 22 horses in the pacing series, meaning two heats of 11 each night.
* Aussie horses will dominate the markets which open this morning.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 26 Jul 2014 16:14:39 Processing Time: 622ms