Trainer Laura McCullum knows a thing or two about beating the odds with her horses and on Monday at Wagga she will test that theory with her first two starters at the track.
McCullum is a relatively newcomer to the training ranks and landed a memorable first career victory with Faramondo at Wodonga on March 27.
The Albury trainer will attempt to keep the consistent form of her stable intact with Cheeva Grande in the Ruby Tuesday Class 2 (1400m) and Educate in the Bidgee Pumps & Irrigation Benchmark 58 (1200m).
The 29-year-old’s first winner came on the back of a few long priced placed results by her stable horses during the recent Albury Cup carnival.
Cheeva Grande ran second in a deceptive finish beaten a nose as a $31 chance and Makaretu Boy was also runner-up as a $101 chance.
The long priced results, even though they didn’t win, proved McCullum was on the right track with her husband and jockey, Scott, who is a big part of the stable operation.
Training a team of 12 horses at the Albury racetrack, McCullum hopes her first winner and those long priced placed results can lead to more success at Wagga.
Cheeva Grande will lead her attack and his trainer is sure the seven-year-old will perform up to his last start effort.
Would Be King, which is prepared by Tim Donnelly in Wagga, defeated Cheeva Grande in the closest of finishes at Albury and has since won again at Wellington last week.
“My only query with Cheeva Grande is coming back in distance to 1400 metres from a mile.” she said.
“I have kept him fresh, he has trained on well, and he is racing in his own grade.
“If he runs up to the same standard as Albury he should be in the finish.”
Cheeva Grande and Educate are both raced by Wayne Ross of Cloverlea Farm at Euroa who has put a lot of faith in McCullum entrusting her and Scott with all of their present stable of horses.
“He has given us a huge amount of support and we have had some good results of late,” she said.
“I have only been back training for a bit since a disqualification and so far it has been good.”
The mother of two believes the addition of a water treadmill has also been an asset for the stable’s older horses.
“It has worked wonders and allows the horses to get very fit without placing a lot of pressure on their legs and back,” she said.
“The water treadmill has been great ensuring they gain core fitness and it is showing in their racing.”
McCullum had three placings over the Albury carnival at long prices and she hopes that form can translate to wins at Wagga and into the Wagga Cup carnival in May.
Educate was having his first start for three months last time out when a closing fifth over 1175 metres at Albury.
“He came from the tail of the field – it was a big run,” she said. "The way he has trained on I expect him to be very hard to beat.
“Even though he has 61 kilograms he is such a little bulldog that it shouldn’t worry him.”
Meanwhile, jockey Jake Duffy will only have the one ride at Wagga on Big Day Out but that may be all he needs for success in the FSD Electrics Class 2 (1000m).
Duffy rode Big Day Out to victory at Albury in February and into third place at the cup carnival at the horse’s past two starts.
Big Day Out is one of the most consistent horses in training and has been placed in all of his nine starts over 1000 metres.
His past four starts have produced a win, second and third at Albury plus a second at Wagga.
Trainer Craig Weeding of Wangaratta also only has the one starter at Wagga and can safely rely upon Big Day Out to maintain his consistent record.
Debut winner Our Baez returns from a spell for Wagga trainer Chris Heywood, while impressive last start winner Crucial Witness is also rated in the main chances.