Double M Stables may be a man down, but that hasn’t stopped the Cambridge training operation of Matthew White and Mike Berger, with seven of their team set to compete at Cambridge Raceway on Sunday.
White has been out of action since he was injured in a crash at Cambridge last month, which also involved reinsmen Jay Abernethy, David Butcher, and Todd Macfarlane.
While not yet able to return to the stables, Berger said his training partner has been kept active inspecting yearlings ahead of New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred’s forthcoming sale at Karaka on February 17.
“He’s not in action yet, but he’s up and moving around,” Berger said. “He’s been around having a look at some yearlings, so it has given him something to do.
“It’s been busy at the stable, but we have got a good crew. Luke Whittaker started with us at the right time and he has been exceptional, Matty’s Dad, Les, is in every morning and Kevin Dysart comes in every day and helps out.”
The Cambridge duo are looking forward to watching their seven-strong team, including two debutants, compete at their home track on Sunday.
One stable runner who will be making their debut is Optical Illusion who will line-up in the IRT Harness Jewels 2020 Tickets On Sale Now Mobile Pace (2200m).
“He is probably still a bit green, but he is quite a nice horse,” Berger said. “Whatever he does on Sunday he will improve on, but certainly looking at the field he should be a good chance.”
The stable’s other debutant, Scottish Poacher, will contest the Woodlands 2020 Yearlings – Woodlandsstud.co.nz Mobile Pace (2200m).
“He is handy enough,” Berger said. “We will just have to see, maybe another trial would have been good for him, but with the meeting right on our back doorstep I think we might as well be going around there as go around at the workouts.
“It’s a good draw (1) and with a nice trip he could get a bit.”
Stablemate Class Rebel will contest the same race, however, Berger was more reserved about his expectations with the four-year-old gelding.
“His best run was probably on the grass last week and he didn’t get much of a go,” he said. “To be fair, that’s where he is best suited, so he is on limited time.”
In the Hello World Travel Mobile Pace (2200m) Carse O Fern Tom will attempt to add a second win to his record after clearing maidens two starts back.
“It was a good win,” Berger said. “It’s a big jump up with that rating system, you go from one win to racing five to seven win horses in the next grade, which makes it really tough.
“He has trained on well, so if he gets the right trip you would hope he could get a wee bit of it. But you have got to have the right trip and sometimes it takes three to four starts for them to adjust to that grade, but he will be trying anyway.”
Berger and White will have another dual-pronged attack in the Bayleys Thames/Coromandel Pacers Cup (2700m) with About Turn and Mach Little Soaky.
“About Turn is a good honest genuine horse who is always thereabouts and the other guy is in a purple patch of form at the moment,” Berger said.
“He seems really good and he has got a bit of high speed. We have got Luke (Whittaker, junior driver) on, it’s a penalty free race with a junior driver, and he has been working him and drove him at the workouts on Saturday and he went pretty good.
“I am hopeful that they are both good chances.”
Meanwhile, Eagle Watch will contest the Dunstan Horse Feeds Mobile Pace (2200m) and Berger said punters can strike a line through his last start run where he trailed the field home after being attacked for the lead.
“Last start was a little bit unfortunate. I would have liked to see him trail three back on the fence, but the horse that went to the front had a hopple out of its leg and Scott Phelan (driver) yelled at Todd (Mitchell, driver of Eagle Watch) you better come around me, which he did and then he got attacked.
“I wasn’t that concerned by that run. It is one that you sort of forget about, it’s just circumstances, nothing just went our way.”
Placed at Group One level as a juvenile, Eagle Watch has had a torrid time in his three-year-old term.
“He has had a few issues this season,” Berger said. “He had a setback with a virus and just niggly little things.
“He is probably a horse that needs to be looked after at the moment. I’d just like to see him poked away, get a nice trip and saved for one run.
“That’s how I would like to see him driven for a while just to get his confidence back after all the little setbacks he has had.
“With the right trip he is a chance on Sunday.” – Cambridge Raceway
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