Culpeka is a Rising Star

Jack Mack has been one of the most exciting juvenile pacers in Western Australia in recent years but has been dogged by injury and has been off the scene for the past 13 months.

However, his stablemate and fellow New Zealand-bred five-year-old Culpeka has overcome problems and is looming as a rising star of WA harness racing.

Both pacers were purchased as yearlings in New Zealand by Busselton trainer Barry Howlett, who has formed a close association with prominent trainer-reinsman Brent Mangos, who prepared them for their early racing in New Zealand.

Jack Mack failed to be placed at five New Zealand starts before developing into a star performer in WA for Howlett. His 18 appearances in WA have produced 16 wins and a second placing, boosting his stake-earnings to $285,973. His wins included the Pearl Classic for two-year-olds in June 2017 and the Golden Slipper a month later as well as the Three-Year-Old Pearl in May 2018. He last raced when a winner of a Golden Nugget preview at Gloucester Park in December 2018.  

Culpeka revealed abundant early promise for Mangos and he was most impressive when he finished powerfully from sixth on the home turn to be second to Spankem in the group 1 New Zealand Sires Stakes for two-year-olds at Addington in May 2017, Spankem, who rated 1.54.2 over 1950m, is now one of Australasia’s finest pacers with a record of 39 starts for 16 wins, 17 placings and $1,297,746 in stakes. His wins include the Miracle Mile in 1.47.7 at Menangle in March 2019.

Culpeka won at his debut, as a two-year-old in a 1700m event at Alexandra Park in February 2017 when he raced without cover before beating Alta Mach by two lengths, with Luis Alberto finishing fifth and Jack Mack in eighth place.

Culpeka, who is related to Eloquent Mach (25 starts for 11 wins, six placings and $171,169) and Machtu (146 starts for 33 wins, 36 placings and $414,023), has raced four times in Western Australia for a first-up third behind Its Rock And Roll and Shadow Roll at Pinjarra on December 2 last year, followed by convincing wins at his next three starts, at Bunbury, Gloucester Park and Pinjarra.

At his most recent outing, over 2185m at Pinjarra last Monday week, Culpeka, driven by Chris Lewis set the pace from barrier one and dashed over the final 400m in win by two lengths from Mileys Desire. After his previous success, beating Dennis by more than three lengths and rating 1.55.2 over 1730m at Gloucester Park, Lewis declared: “There’s a lot of upside with him.”

Lewis will again by in the sulky behind Culpeka when the Mach Three pacer starts from the No. 4 barrier on the front line in the 2130m Better Your Industry With TABtouch Pace. He promises to be one of the star bets on the 11-event program.