Cullen Holding His Own Against Alberta's Best


"You have to drive smart here because there are no holes. They will not give you a hole and they will not give you an inch. It is a lot tougher here than it is back home, that's for sure."

Travis Cullen is not the first --- and will definitely not be the last --- pilot to find it tough to break into a foreign driving colony. Although he will have to fight for every iota of success he achieves over Alberta's Northlands Park, the 20-year-old horseman knows full well that his job will just get harder as he finds more success with his charges.

"I had a very good start, but now the horses have had to move up in class and it's going to get a lot tougher from here on in."

Sporting a .480 UDR from 118 starts this season, Cullen, a transplanted horseman that most recently honed his skills in the Prairies, is looking to capitalize on his second go-around with Alberta's driving elite.

"It's a lot tougher driving against these drivers because they have got more experience and they are really good drivers," Cullen told Brendan Pawliw of CJGX 94 Radio in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. "When I came here (Northlands) last year… I was driving some really good horses, which helped me a lot and got my name out there a little bit of respect after I won a couple of times."

The pilot realizes that cementing himself as a player at Northlands isn't going to be the easiest task to undertake. Although, as he explained to Pawliw, the young up-and-comer is hoping to find a place for himself at the competitive and respected Edmonton course.

Cullen's relocation to and from racing hotbeds can almost be characterized as a natural progression familiar to any budding horseman. Some of Cullen's stops along the way have included stints in trainer Casie Coleman's highly successful Ontario operation, as well as work in conditioner Joe Periera's outfit.

Moving, travel, and being forced away from family and loved ones are just a few of the sacrifices that Cullen's path to the top of the industry now features. Although, considering times have been better for racing in the Prairies, Cullen is looking to find his niche in Alberta. He told Pawliw that there will be time to reassess his future if things take a turn for the better back home.

"I'm planning on staying here (Northlands) as long as my horses can do 'okay,' because the way it looks back home it is very hard to make a living. If we ever got five months of racing straight, I would for sure go back home and race."

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