Tumut-trained Universal Pack chases a third Cup success this campaign when the tough as teak six-year-old lines up in the $25,000 Gundagai Cup on Sunday.
Prepared by Kerry Weir, the gelding’s booty includes his home town Cup (1400m) at Tumut first-up on January 29 and a narrow win in the Corowa Cup (1600m) on March 13.
Last start the gelding finished a terrific three-length sixth to Melbourne stayers Paddy O’Reilly, Extra Zero and Speed Gifted – Group One and Two horses – in the $170,000 Albury Cup (2000m) on March 25.
“He pulled up terrific from Albury, you wouldn’t have known he’d been around,” Weir said.
“We really thought he had a great chance but our hearts were broken when he drew 16 of 16. It completely buggered our plan.
“We had to go back early and in that class of field you can’t give away big starts.
“And he had little luck in the straight but ran on really well.”
Universal Pack, in the Weir yard for two years, has really developed, winning nine of 37 starts.
Last campaign he contested the Wagga Cup, with the May 6 $140,000 2000m feature his major goal this preparation, and was spelled after a gallant second to Carski Drum in the Queanbeyan Cup (2000m) on May 16.
Universal Pack was found to have bone chips in both knees following Queanbeyan and underwent an operation.
“The vet said it was one of the worst bone chip cases he’d ever seen and didn’t think Universal Pack would ever race again,” Weir said.
“The operation has done him the world of good. He’s come out of it better than ever.”
Universal Pack gets into the Gundagai Cup (1800m) with just 54.5kg and will be ridden by Simon Miller.
“He carried 59 kilos in the Corowa Cup. I’m very happy with the weight,” Weir said.
“The horse had a bit of an interrupted preparation early, switching around in distances, but he’s right on track now.
“There’s still upside to him, Wagga being his major goal.
“He’ll run in the Murrumbidgee Cup (April 17) at Wagga after Gundagai which fits in perfectly to the Wagga Cup.”
Weir has trained plenty of winners at Gundagai but Universal Pack represents his first runner in the Cup.
“Gundagai isn’t the ideal track for Universal Pack, Voice Commander is going to prove hard to run down, but I couldn’t be happier with the way my bloke’s going. He hasn’t left an oat and is fit as a fiddle,” he said.