Pounamu starts Belmont campaign

Group 1 Kingston Town Classic winner Pounamu returns to Belmont Park on Saturday, June 2. Picture: Anita McInnes

POUNAMU has so far raced better at Ascot but Muchea trainer Alan Mathews hopes he can step up another level when he returns to Belmont Park on Saturday, June 2.
First up he will be aimed at the Belmont Sprint (1400m) followed by the Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and the Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Mathews said before his last two races the six-year-old gelding had never raced at 2100m 2400m.
“Once they get to that distance they tend not to do so well over shorter distances,’’ he said.
“He’s going good but we’ll have to see.
“ He’s trialled okay and I’m happy with him.
After his successes last year, which included runner up in the Perth Cup (2400m) behind Material man on New Year’s Day, and once connections had decided Pounamu would stay in WA Mathews said he would be set for weight-for-age races at Belmont.
Among the Authorised and Tangiwai gelding’s achievements at Ascot last year were firsts in the Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m) and the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) – in both these races Material Man claimed second spot.
At Belmont last year Pounamu was third in the Strickland Stakes and sixth in the Hyperion Stakes with Scales of Justice and Zarantz filling the top two places.
Zarantz was 10th in the Perth Cup and third in the Ted Van Heemst Stakes.
Mathews also said Pounamu’s half-brother Kokopu winner of his previous two starts had met some interference in the Vale Alan Croll Handicap (1200m) on Saturday, May 26 and then did not show much interest in the race after that.
Kokopu and Pounamu both have the same dam – Tangiwai.