By Ray Hickson
Her last start victory was as visually impressive as wins get but trainer Bryce Heys remains a little guarded about promising filly Po Kare Kare as she heads to Randwick on Saturday.
Heys said as exciting as it is to train a filly with her potential she’s still very much a work in progress and he’s using the Precise Air Handicap (1300m) as the first significant test of her ability.
Po Kare Kare followed a Kensington placing first-up with a breathtaking win under 61.5kg at Gosford on June 9, running 35.24 (Punter’s Intelligence) for her last 600m (five lengths faster than the next best) as she rounded her rivals up from last.
“You couldn’t not be (impressed). I’m not getting too carried away, visually it was impressive but it’s a fair old step up against the horses on Saturday,’’ Heys said.
“It’s encouraging, and she’s a filly we’ve always thought had pretty good ability but it’s been a slow process. So we’re not in a hurry to speed it up.
“I had this race picked out for her third-up so I can find out a little bit more.
“It’s okay if she gets beaten, as long as she runs well, but it will tell us a bit more about what we will do with her going forward.”
The Warwick Farm trainer’s plans for Po Kare Kare, $5.50 with TAB on Wednesday, in this preparation and the immediate future will come down to how she performs at Randwick.
Po Kare Kare wins at Gosford on June 9
So far she’s only had the four starts and both wins have come second-up with Nash Rawiller riding and on tighter tracks and Heys expects to be able to make some use of an inside gate, an option they didn’t have at Gosford.
“When she won at Canterbury she dominated the race that day,’’ he said.
“Hopefully a softer barrier is better for her, we had the extreme outside last time so we had no option.
“She did look to do it easily but she definitely felt the run. I think the majority of horses feel a run and she definitely knew she had the run.
“She’s only ever been two starts into a prep, it’s a little further than 1200m. She’s probably going to be a horse that will race over a little fit further later on, so it’s a nice race against her own age to see if she’ll run out the 1300m.
“Do we stay at that distance or go to 1400m provided she runs well on Saturday?”
Of course Heys is no stranger to preparing a smart horse, former top sprinter Spieth carried the same colours as Po Kare Kare to two very close Group 1 seconds in the 2016-17 season.
Some well documented behavioural issues forced Heys to be patient with the filly and he’s adamant that move will pay off in time.
“Ideally, we’ll see how she pulls up, then one more run after this,’’ he said.
“We’re able to have a nice horse to race at this point of time but she’s more inexperienced than it appears. There was always method to the madness when we were trialling her and turning her out.
“Whether she comes back in the spring, we’re not charging into it, she can have a break and she will be a nice mare to race over the summer.
“She has scope, she‘s going to continue to train on. It’s important we give her good days out at the races so if we do decide to do something with her she has the experience under her belt.”