Punta Norte’s last-start win at Doomben has reinforced trainer Robert Heathcote’s high opinion of the gelding but has created a programming dilemma.
Heathcote is keen to get Punta Norte up to 2000 metres but his victory in a 1600m-Class 6 on August 29 means he is ineligible for Saturday’s One metro win race over that distance at Doomben.
He will instead run over 1630 metres in another Class 6.
“On his breeding you would think he would get 2000 metres at least. He is by Street Sense out of a Bletchingly mare which are the right bloodlines,” Heathcote said.
“There is nothing around for him at the 2000 metre range, so we will keep him around 1600 for the time being.”
Heathcote said after Punta Norte won three races in a row last year he lost his way and was gelded.
“In the end we had no option,” Heathcote said.
“We didn’t want to geld him because we have such an opinion of him but it had to be done.”
Punta Norte, who is named after an Argentinian beach where killer whales launch themselves onto the sand to catch prey, is one of the best looking horses in Brisbane.
“You wouldn’t find a better style of a horse. He has a lovely galloping action and carries himself very well,” Heathcote said.
Punta Norte holds favouritism over the Ben Currie-trained Honey Toast who comes back in distance from his last-start win over 2200m.
Heathcote’s fellow Eagle Farm trainer Liam Birchley will leave a decision on whether Hardline runs at Doomben as late as possible.
Hardline, who won New Zealand’s richest race, the $1 million Karaka Million for two-year-olds in January, was set to make his first start as a three-year-old in the Kangaroo Bus Lines (1050m).
But Birchley is concerned the track may be too hard and will leave the option open to run Hardline at the Sunshine Coast the following day.
“The Doomben track was very firm last Saturday and that won’t suit Hardline,” Birchley said.
“I have him entered in a Benchmark 75 race at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday and that might suit him better.”
“He has gone well in a couple of jump-outs. But he would need to be at his best to win on Saturday.
“It is probably the best 1000 metre three-year-old race we have seen here in Brisbane for some time.
“There are some very slick horses in Saturday’s race.”
Birchley said he would probably wait until Saturday’s scratching deadline before deciding which direction to take with Hardline.