McCullum opens options

McCullum (Ryan Elliot) cruising home at New Plymouth last Saturday.

McCullum (Ryan Elliot) scoring easily at New Plymouth last Saturday.

McCullum proved a point to his connections when he recaptured his best form at New Plymouth last Saturday.

The Shinko King five-year-old had been unbeaten in two trials and two raceday outings before finishing seventh, beaten four lengths, at Awapuni earlier this month. On that occasion he was trapped three-wide after failing to get to the front in the early stages and never looked happy in the heavy11 ground.

However, stepping up from 1200 to the 1400 metres of the Giant’s [email protected] Park last Saturday he was always travelling like a winner for apprentice Ryan Elliot and won with authority on the slow8 track.

The win was no surprise to his connections, including former jockey Gavin McKeon and trainer Ralph Manning, and augurs well for his future.

“On that run he’ll get a mile (1600) alright,” said Manning. “That was a good win and he’s a pretty good horse to do what he’s doing after the major issues he has had.

“He’s not just a wet tracker. He won his first trial on good ground (dead5) and as long as there’s a bit of sting out I think he’ll like it.”

McKeon bred and races McCullum with his wife, Emma, father-in-law David Read and a friend, Steve Cross, and echoes Manning’s sentiments over the potential the five-year-old shows.

“I’m not sure where he’ll go next,” said McKeon. “I’ll leave that up to Ralph. He knows what he’s doing.”

One possibility could be the Matamata Cup meeting on Saturday week for a Rating 75 1600 metres. He won in Rating 75 last Saturday when rated on 67 points and has been given five points for the win so is still eligible for the same grade.