Part-owner Russell Clarke is confident that his mare Pop Culture will acquit herself well in her last campaign, before going to stud.
Prepared in WA by Colin Webster the quality mare is now in Rob Blacker’s Mornington stables and makes her debut at Caulfield on May 2 in the LU Simon Handicap (1600m).
With earnings of almost $643,000, Pop Culture has won 10 times from 37 starts in WA, including the Oaks, St Leger, two Ascot Gold Cups, and the Detonator and ATA Handicaps. The now six year old was ridden in all her victories by Troy Turner.
Blacker has reported that she has trialled well and is keen in her work. “Her workload and environment is varied and interesting. The cooler climate, increased moisture in her working surfaces, plus swimming has decreased the concussion load on her legs.”
Blacker said it was difficult to assess her chances this Saturday with no recent form behind her having last raced in early January. “Her last win was 10 weeks into her racing campaign, so about 20 weeks into her preparation.” Blacker said the 1600m circuit at Caulfield is a bit tricky.
The trainer said he expected her to win one heat of the upcoming Banjo Paterson Series and then the final. “She’s a Group class stayer, fit and sound and will be better than the horses she meets in that series.”
“She will earn plenty and double her value. There are plenty of 1800m+ feature races for her. Before Pop Culture arrived we expected an older mare with a ‘lot of miles on the clock.’ What we got was a sound keen racehorse loaded with class.”
Whether Blacker is a beneficiary of Webster’s training remains to be seen but champion trainer Bart Cummings has never forgotten Webster’s work with the 1999 Perth Cup runner-up Rogan Josh. That galloper went on to win the Melbourne Cup of the same year for the Cups King.
Cummings paid tribute to the veteran WA trainer, in his book, and deservedly so.
Time will tell whether Blacker will be singing from the same praise sheet but the onus is on him to follow a hard act.
As for Russell Clarke, he said he was excited at the prospects of the mare’s Victorian campaign. “When she won the WA Oaks she provided a family trip to the Mediterranean Sea and Italy for seven of us, so we owe her plenty.”