Unusual Culture continues hot form

Unusual Culture in full flight at Sandown - Photo: Bruno Cannatelli
Unusual Culture in full flight at Sandown

Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

Sandown has brought the very best out of New Zealand-bred mare Unusual Culture this autumn, and that formula proved to be a winner again in Saturday’s JRA Handicap (1600m) on the Hillside track.

The A$130,000 race was the third win from the last four starts for the four-year-old mare, with all of those victories coming at Sandown on March 1, April 10 and on Saturday.

Apprentice jockey Carleen Hefel has been in the saddle for those two most recent appearances, and she positioned Unusual Culture in fourth spot and one off the rail through the early stages of Saturday’s race.

Hefel had a handful of horse underneath her at the top of the home straight, and Unusual Culture quickened smartly to take command at the 200m mark.

Fellow New Zealand-bred Thought Provoking produced a strong late run to eat into the margin in the closing stages, but Unusual Culture reached the finish line with a length still up her sleeve.

Unusual Culture has now had 13 starts for four wins, five placings and A$203,384 in stakes.

“She’s been in great form, and we were pretty confident coming into today with the way the race set up,” said David Eustace, who trains in partnership with Ciaron Maher.

“We knew we’d have the favourite (Cap De Joie) behind us and they weren’t likely to go too quick. So I think that was certainly an element as to why she won today, but she’s also just going to the next level in this preparation.

“She’s been based at Cranbourne, where our team there have done a great job. We had a bit of a gap between runs, so she had a tick-over jumpout last week and went very nicely.

“It’s handy that she goes on any ground. We were a little bit concerned about wet ground going into her last-start win, and she put that to bed, so we were quite confident coming back here today.”

Unusual Culture was bred by Nigel and Adaire Auret, who also stand her sire Unusual Suspect at their Letham Stud operation on the outskirts of Wanganui.

Initially raced by the Aurets and trained by their son Fraser, Unusual Culture had three starts in New Zealand. She won by four lengths on debut at Otaki in November 2021 before placing in the Gr.3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) and Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m). Those performances led to her being privately purchased by prominent Australian owner Ozzie Kheir.

“It’s great to get another win in these colours for Ozzie, John (O’Neill) and the team,” Eustace said. “She was selected by Matt Becker.

“Hopefully she can continue to progress, and then naturally black type will come into things at some stage. But we don’t have to rush things, and there might be another run in handicap company first.” – NZ Racing Desk


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