The Cup favourite left rival' />
Scary times and scary news flowed from the Stunin Cullen camp yesterday ahead of Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup.
The Cup favourite left rival trainers shaking their heads by unleashing one of the fastest 800m sectionals ever paced in this country to win at the Ashburton workouts yesterday.
He exploded over his last 800m in 53.5 seconds, the final 400m in 25.6 seconds to win his 2400m workout by six lengths.
That was the fastest official last 800m ever paced on the lightning quick Ashburton track and while the overall time was nothing special, the fact Stunin Cullen beat last season's Cup runner-up Bettor's Strike so easily will be crushing for the morale of rival trainers.
But perhaps even more worrying were trainer Tim Butt's comments after the workout, with the two-time Cup winning trainer adamant Stunin Cullen is better now than when he thrashed most of his Cup rivals in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton nine days ago.
"To be honest I was a little disappointed by his run in the Flying Stakes, he should have won by more," says Butt.
"But we had his blood checked after that race and he wasn't quite spot on.
"We have worked on that and I have no doubts he is a better horse now than when he won the Flying Stakes."
While Butt's confidence in the 5-year-old is sky high, he was not totally thrilled by him drawing barrier one (two, but with an emergency inside) for the Cup yesterday.
"I am glad he is on the front line but one is not perfect because you quite often have to stand for a while from there.
"But he is good from a stand and we still have options."
The big winner from the draw was Aussie stayer Smoken Up, who arrived in Christchurch yesterday morning.
He drew barrier four, which suits his racing style perfectly and trainer-driver Lance Justice will undoubtedly be looking to head for the front early.
That draw could be enough to see him installed as second favourite when the final field market opens this morning, with Stunin Cullen likely to be around $2, Smoken Up $5 and Monkey King, who starts off the unruly, at $6.
As expected, the connections of Monday's Kaikoura Cup winner Smiling Shard opted not to pay the late entry into the Cup and he will start next in the Free-For-All on Friday week trying to win his way into the Miracle Mile.
Monkey King, Kiwi Ingenuity and Power Of Tara will round out their public preparations in the official Cup trial at Addington today.
New Zealand Trotting Cup - Mr Molly (1), Stunin Cullen (2), Pembrook Benny (3), Raglan (4), Smoken Up (5), Fake Chance (6), Sleepy Tripp (7), Power Of Tara (8), Highview Tommy (9), Kiwi Ingenuity (10), Ohoka Dallas (11), Lord Forbes (12), Second Wind (13), Bondy (14), Georgetown (15), Bettor's Strike (16), Monkey King (ur). Emergencies: Lord Forbes, Mr Molly.
The rest of the fields will be drawn today.
* Stunin Cullen unleashes some blistering times at the Ashburton workouts.
* That will see him firm in favouritism for next Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup.
* But he has drawn the tricky barrier one in the Cup.
* Aussie raider Smoken Up arrived in good condition yesterday and has drawn perfectly.