Will Irish luck shine on Cully?

Cambridge jumps jockey Richard Cully will be out to make up for lost time in his bid for another NZ Jumps Jockeys’ Premiership when he resumes at Trentham on Saturday.

The Irishman was a decisive winner of last year’s Premiership with 14 wins and is currently lying second on this year’s table with 11 successes, one behind the leader, Richard Eynon, who is also currently under suspension but due to resume at the Wellington meeting.

Cully has two good chances in the main races at Trentham. He will ride the favourite Morpheus in the $50,000 Ricoh Wellington Hurdles and Better On Top in the $50,000 Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase, while his other mounts include No Quota and Cape Kinaveral.

Cully has been Morpheus’ regular rider and the pair will be chasing a fourth win in succession when tackling some talented types in the Wellington Hurdles. Morpheus has had five wins and four placings from 13 hurdle starts and Cully’s record is three wins and three placings from six rides.

His first jumps ride on Morpheus was when second to Kid Columbus in the Great Western Hurdles at Riverton last May and the Zabeel gelding has improved markedly since that southern trip.

“He had a couple of runs at Riverton and they were a learning curve,” he said. “He didn’t have the blinds (blinkers) on then. He keeps stepping up to the mark and he handles heavy and good tracks. He’d have to be up there with the best I’ve ridden.”

Trained by Graeme and Debbie Rogerson, Morpheus won the K.S. Browne Hurdles at Ellerslie, then the Awapuni Hurdles and the Hawke’s Bay Hurdles. “He got away with almost 70kg (69.5) last time, but weight will probably get to him in the end,” said Cully. “That’s my main worry on Saturday.”

Cully has confidence in the chances of winning the Wellington Steeplechase on Better On Top, who finished fourth, just under five lengths from the deadheaters Volkswagin and Penstar at Hastings.

“He ran better than the finishing placing suggests,” said Cully. “I don’t think Hawke’s Bay suits him. He’s a big, long horse and can be awkward. Wellington suits him better.”

Better On Top won over the Trentham figure-eight course in a minor steeplechase on the track two starts ago when beating Lord Custom, who later won the FMG Manawatu Steeplechase.

Trained at Hastings by Paul Nelson, Better On Top has had four steeplechase starts this campaign for two wins and two placings and Cully has been aboard each time.