IN Racing
All-Star Mile call-up for Puntura
“I rang the owner and told him he better organise it and he is booked on the plane on Sunday to head over.”
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 08, 2024
Puntura winning the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m). Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Taranaki trainer Robbie Patterson was getting ready to head to Ellerslie with two contenders for the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) on Saturday until he got a shock when going through his emails on Thursday.

“I was going through my emails on my way home from the trials yesterday and this email popped up from Racing Victoria,” Patterson said.

It was an invitation for his Group One winner Puntura to compete in next Saturday’s A$4 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield, and Patterson didn’t hesitate in calling owners John and Carole Lynskey.

“It was a bit of a shock,” Patterson said. “I rang the owner and told him he better organise it and he is booked on the plane on Sunday to head over.”

Patterson is a seasoned campaigner in Queensland, but he is yet to take a runner to Victoria, and he is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I am rapt because I am getting these stayers around me and I have been eyeing races over there in the lower grades, so it will be a good eye-opener for me and a good learning experience,” he said.

“We are realistic about it (All-Star Mile), we are going to be racing the best in Australasia, but it is just a great thrill to be invited and have the opportunity.”

The winner of the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham in January, Puntura was going to head for a spell following his disappointing ninth placing in the Gr.1 Otaki-Maori Weight-For-Age Classic (1600m) last month, however, his antics in the paddock following the race led Patterson to have one final roll of the dice with his gelding this campaign, and now that happens to be across the Tasman.

“This will be his swansong for the season,” he said. “I was going to put him out after Otaki because he was a bit disappointing, but he was running around like an idiot. I thought he is a weight-for-age horse, so he is not going to get many chances so we might as well have a go at the Bonecrusher, he has points for that (summer bonus) series. But this opportunity has now come up.”

Regular stable rider Craig Grylls will also make the trip over to Australia to partner Puntura in the All-Star Mile.

“I told John Lynskey there’s only one rule and that rule is that Craig is riding him, and he was happy with that, so that was fantastic,” Patterson said.

As a result of Puntura’s impending trip, the son of Vespa won’t take his place in the New Zealand Stakes on Saturday, leaving One Bold Cat as the stable’s sole representative.

It could prove to be a fruitful day for his connections as One Bold Cat is the only eligible horse that is in contention of dethroning Legarto for the Summer Bonus Series’ top prize of $500,000.

“We need to win it and for her to come worse than fourth to win it, but realistically from the draws we are running for second at best,” Patterson said. “But to run second to Legarto I would be happy, and picking up second prize in the series would be fantastic.”

The series runner-up will receive $100,000, while the third placegetter will receive $50,000 on top of the stakes they accrue in the $450,000 New Zealand Stakes.

“Running in Bonecrusher’s honour with Group One status, it is a thrill to just have a horse in it,” Patterson said.

The New Plymouth horseman said One Bold Cat has been out of sorts since his victory in the Gr.3 Counties Cup (2100m) at Pukekohe last November, but he has come right ahead of Saturday’s contest.

“When he won the Counties Cup he was right on the top of his game and then he went a bit quiet in his next couple of starts, just in his work,” Patterson said. “Up until the Counties Cup he was bucking and playing around coming off the track. Just this week he has started doing that again and he is licking the bowl and is a very happy horse.

“He is probably back at the top of his game, but he will have to be. They will know he is there and he will be rushing home late, and hopefully he is rushing home in time.”

While he hasn’t been his usual self at home, the son of The Bold One has still managed fifth in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m), fourth in the Thorndon Mile, and third in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month.

“It was a good run in the Herbie Dyke,” Patterson said. “I don’t know if Ellerslie will suit him that well, he is going to get back from the draw (11).

“This will be it and then he will get ready for Hawke’s Bay (in spring). He enjoys a bit of cut in the track as well, so the mile and 2000m will suit him at Hawke’s Bay.”

Meanwhile, Patterson will be represented by a trio of runners at Trentham on Saturday, including Sinbin in the Top Tips [email protected] 1100, The Chopper in the Happy Birthday Noeline Berkett 1600, and Bow Hill in the Adopt A Greyhound @ 1400.

“I am really happy with all three of them,” Patterson said. “They have all worked and jumped out great in the last week.

“I think Sinbin is a really big chance and The Chopper is a really nice staying horse on the way up, he will go through the grades.

“I have always had a lot of time for Bow Hill. She was disappointing in her last two starts, so I spelled her and she seems to have come back with a skip in her step. She is a promising horse, I just want to see her back on track, and I think she can do that tomorrow.”

Puntura A$5 All-Star Mile Robbie Patterson John Lynskey Carole Lynskey Vespa One Bold Cat Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes