Puntura will be looking to snare his first stakes success when he heads to Trentham on Saturday.
The five-year-old gelding finished runner-up in the Gr.3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) at Trentham last month before finishing fourth in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at the Hamilton track on New Year’s Day.
Trainer Robbie Patterson was pleased with both efforts and he believes the son of Vespa is capable of taking home the lion’s share of the purse in the Gr.3 Dixon & Dunlop Anniversary Handicap (1600m) this weekend.
From his ace draw, Patterson said Craig Grylls will be able to give his charge a softer trip than his previous outing.
“The better draw is going to help. He was caught wide in the Rich Hill Mile and got pushed wide the entire race. He wasn’t entitled to finish it off and he did,” Patterson said.
“He has done well since and had a good gallop this morning and pulled up probably the best he has pulled up. Going into it he is as good as he can be.”
A return trip to Trentham later this month could be on the cards if he performs up to expectations.
“If he won well, I might throw in a late nomination for the Thorndon (Gr.1, 1600m). Otherwise, if he goes well, I might look at the Taranaki Cup (Gr.3, 1800m) on February 4.”
Puntura will be joined in his race on Saturday by stablemates Secret Amour and Conor O’Ceirin.
“Secret Amour was very disappointing last start. I can’t quite put my finger on that,” Patterson said.
“She worked up alright this morning. She will go back from the draw (13), she is a natural back runner. She will need a lot of luck.
“Conor O’Ceirin is a go forward horse, so he will roll forward and probably sit outside Sergio again. It will be in the lap of the gods how soft a run he gets, if he gets posted three-wide he might be in some trouble.”
While Patterson is contemplating a Thorndon Mile run with Puntura, it is the main aim for his Group One-winning stablemate Coventina Bay over the Wellington Cup Carnival.
She will head to Trentham on Saturday to contest the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) as a lead-in to the mile feature and Patterson is hoping for a top-three finish.
She finished runner-up in the Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) last month, which proved to be a herculean effort after pulling up with a virus post-race.
“We are there to win, but realistically it is a trial for the Thorndon Mile,” Patterson said.
“We have had our issues with her. She had a virus when she raced last start and we found out afterwards. We have had a few feet problems in-between.
“She had a bit of a temperature and a bit of swelling in her airway, we have got on top of that now. I was thrilled with the run.
“Realistically I think she can run third, but if we can run third in a Group One I would be really happy.”
In her final preparation, Patterson said Coventina Bay will follow an identical path to last year.
“It will be the same – the Herbie Dyke (Gr.1, 2000m), Bonecrusher (Gr.1, 2000m), NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ (Gr.1, 1600m), and then that will be her,” he said.
Patterson’s Trentham team will be rounded out by Another Bella in the Devan Plastics Premier (2200m).
“She went well last week but didn’t get the breaks and couldn’t get to the outside, so had to duck back into where it was a little bit slower, but she still found the line strong,” Patterson said.
“She galloped this morning and I can’t fault her. She has tightened up a fraction after being six weeks in-between runs the other day. I know it is a quick back-up, but she hasn’t missed an oat and her work has been good.
“She will get back from the draw (17), but she naturally will anyway, and if she can get a cart into the race they will know she is there.”