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Things starting to tick along very nicely for Hayden Cullen

Frank Marriott The HarnessXpress

Hayden Cullen is developing a rather impressive strike rate since going it alone and it’s been boosted further by Indiana Arden winning her first two starts for him recently. The five-year-old daughter of Panspacificflight was hav ing her first race in 15 months when she won well enough at Ashburton late last month, fighting off Ultimate Seisation in a 26.8 last quarter, but she didn’t have much right to win again at Motukarara last Sunday. Indiana Arden wound up five-fence after drawing one on the second line, following out the favourite The Real McCoy, who galloped in the score up and inconvenienced her and Blair Orange. They seemed no hope turning for home, but Orange was able to angle down into the passing lane and Indian Arden squeezed through to win quite easily in the end, by two lengths over a game Peraki Seelster. “The way she worked on Wednesday last week, I thought she’d be pretty hard to beat,” said Cullen. “But I thought she was no show on the home turn, until Blair poked through and found room inside the trailer. “She wound up out the back due to the start and it looked like it should have been a false start to me, although I wasn’t about to complain when she will won.” There was no mention of any issues in the Stipes Report, but that won’t be a surprise.

Indiana Arden is being raced on lease by the Night Sky Syndicate after coming to Cullen at the start of January. She was being trained by Grant Payne for breeder John Stiven, but after several trials and three races in 2022 where she made little impression, she was off the scene for over 12 months. Payne gave her two trials in December, but after Indiana Arden again disappointed him in both, he suggested to Stiven he might like to try her at the beach or with some one else. “We’d been very patient with her because Grant thought she had a few wins in her, but she just wasn’t performing for some unknown reason,” said Stiven. “I thought of Hayden as a young fellow just starting out and trying to build a new team.” Cullen thinks the change of scenery and a work routine with more variety has seen Indiana Arden turn the corner. “I train from Blair’s property but I use the track and swim ming pool next door at Ken Barron’s place,” said Cullen. “We do fast work as per normal every second day, but rather than jog on the off days, she goes in the pool. “That keeps her fitness up without doing a lot of miles on the track. “She can be quite fizzy as well and the swimming helps to keep her settled mentally. “Initially I’d taken some bloods and ironed out some minor issues, but later I saw some signs of tie-up, so we also made some changes to her feed. “She’s got a good turn of foot and she’s got a bit of tough ness about her as well, so I can see her winning some more races yet. “She’s in again at Addington on Friday night although I can’t see any of them beating Princess Meritaten from the draws.”

The Night Sky Syndicate, one of four that Stiven has set up to race horses he’d bred that didn’t sell at the yearling sales, took over Indiana Arden in November. They had been racing Stellar Arden, a Bettor’s Delight filly from Ardenart who never got a bid at the sales. She won three races from Payne’s stable before being sent to Jack Trainor at Menangle, where she won four times last year and was getting down around 1.51 at times. Her last win in early November was quite impressive, but Stellar Arden then suffered a tendon injury and had to be retired. “The syndicate came to me and said ‘well what do we do now?’ “Indiana Arden just happened to be getting jogged up at the time, so I said you might as well take her over. “There’s 10 shares in the syndicate or couples that I’ve got to know from all around the South Island. “Some of them are involved in 2-3 of the syndicates we’ve organised.”

Stiven had bred his very well-bred and performed Bettor’s Delight mare Southwind Arden to Panspacificflight for a number of reasons rather than a more commercial option that one season. He’d been involved in his acquisition by Macca Lodge  and bred Winter Rose to him in his second season at stud, producing his best performer in Arden’s Choice, a top two year-old for Mark Purdon who won the Caduceus in Auck land while being second at the Jewels to Dream About Me, timed in 1.53.5 at Ashburton. Southwind Arden had produced four foals for four colts, including South Coast Arden and two brothers by Some beachsomewhere which were also good horses in Plati num Stride and South Beach Arden. The latter looked good winning twice for Barry Purdon, including a Young Guns heat beating Mach Shard, but was lost to a paddock accident as an early three-year-old. Reasoning that she must be due a filly, Stiven bred to Panspacificflight because of his pedigree. The son of The Panderosa was from You Can Fly, an unraced Nihilator daughter of the outstanding race and broodmare Rodine Hanover. She produced three filly foals by Nihilator and You Can Fly was a sister to Perfect Profile, the dam of Art Major, and World Order, the dam of the brilliant filly Worldly Beau ty and also Worldly Treasure, the dam of Captaintreacher ous.

Getting a filly by Panspacificflight would set Stiven up to double up on the blood of what he considers the best pacing family in America. He has already done that with Arden’s Choice, breeding two colts by Captaintreacherous, one a two-year-old called C C Arden who was sold at the sales last year for $140,000 to Stonewall, and a colt bound for next year’s sales. The cross results in a 3x3 double up to the sisters World Order and You Can Fly and a 4x4 to Rodine Hanover, which is about the right place in a pedigree.

Arden’s Choice is back in foal to Captaintreacherous and Stiven is now hoping for a filly or future broodmare. The two foals from Arden’s Choice are the only ones bred on that cross to date, but a variation on the same theme is breeding an Art Major mare to Captaintreacherous and there’s seven of those of racing age. Six have been winners in Deceptive Lee (1.57), Divine Angel, Obsession (1.57.3), Rumble Stride (Aus1.52.6), Tremendous Lover and Verlander, while there’s also a two-year-old filly in Won And Only who qualified recently in winning a trial at Pukekohe for Barry Purdon and a Breckon syndicate. That cross prodduces the same 3x3 to sisters, but to Per fect Profile and World Order. “I wanted a Panspacificflight filly from Southwind Arden and I got what I asked for. “In fact I’ve had four straight fillies from that mare now.” An Art Major was sold at the sales and Stonewall have bought a half share in a yearling by Captaintreacherous privately. In between there was another filly by Captaintreacherous in Pride Of Arden who also got no bids at the sales. She “didn’t want to do it” in training though and is now in foal to Bulldog Hanover.

Southwind Arden is now back in foal to Stay Hungry, a son of Somebeachsomewhere who is not overly big and not from a Bettor’s Delight mare. Indiana Arden is the third horse that Cullen has taken to following on from Dare Devil at at Motukarara late last year and Wish Me Luck last month. That trio has raced 13 times for four wins, two seconds and two thirds, with only Dare Devil letting the stable down at times. “He’s a funny horse. When you think he should go well, he’ll let you down a bit, and when you think he won’t, he steps up and surprises you.” There’s no question that Wish Me Luck has the makings of a good horse however. He resumed at Addington a month ago after also being off the scene for some 15 months, and won a maiden at Addington by over 10 lengths from Stiven’s Melody Arden. He was then beaten half a head at Addington by Stone wall’s Captaintreacherous colt Double Jeopardy after sitting parked outside him over the last lap when they went a 1.56 mile rate. “That second run was even better, but it knocked him a bit so I backed off and freshened him up. “A wee while ago I saw the junior drivers race for one-win horses at Addington next Wednesday and I’ve been holding him back for that. “We’ll give him 2-3 more starts and then reassess things, but I’m not discounting looking at some features later in the season.” Wish Me Luck, a first crop son of Vincent bought at the sales for $45,000 by Alabar and Nevele R, was good enough as a two-year-old to run Vinke B to a head in the Sapling Stakes when Cullen was training in partnership with Mark Purdon. But he disappointed in three runs the following spring and the problem couldn’t be pinpointed, so he went for a six month spell, joining Cullen at the start of November. Cullen has recently qualified two two-year-old fillies in General Jen (Captaintreacherous-Gold Elite) and Winelight (Downbytheseaside-Sugar Loaf) and they will both make their debuts in the juvenile filly race at Addington next Wednesday. Not far away either is Arafura, a two-year-old filly by Sweet Lou from Spirit Of Delight, also owned by Kevin McKerrow. “They’re quite nice fillies which we really like. “I’ve got a team of 20 in work now so things are ticking along quite nicely.” Indiana Arden may not win again at Addington this week, but expect that strike rate of Cullen’s to improve even further next week. – by Frank Marrion The HarnessXpress


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