Trainer Bryce Heys can look back and be certain the patience he and the owners of promising filly Po Kare Kare showed last year is paying off.
It can’t be easy having an investment in a racehorse only to see them have three preparations and trial six times in a year but not head to the races. That was the story of Po Kare Kare’s 2021.
Heys revealed the filly, who is set to resume in the First Justify Yearlings Handicap (1100m) at Kensington on Wednesday, had been a real problem child and he couldn’t take her to the races until she was mentally ready for it.
“She’s come such a long way. She had all sorts of behavioural issues and was a real challenge,’’ Heys said.
“It’s a credit to the owners, they’ve been patient and allowed us to get her going.
“I always thought there was something there. But if we exposed her at the races we wouldn’t see that and we had to get a few things right at home with her.
“At the same time I still wanted her to experience a day out at the trials.”
Po Kare Kare barely beat a horse home in her first four trials but when she returned for her third prep in the spring last year she’d clearly turned the corner and her trial performances were proof.
When she finally made her debut, Po Kare Kare finished a close third behind Trifaccia at Warwick Farm in a 1200m event. Heys said if he had his time again he’d have kicked off over 1100m.
He elected to give her a break after her maiden win at Canterbury two weeks later.
“She got a soft run from the barrier the night she won at Canterbury but being her second start she was able to take advantage of that and win so I thought that was quite promising,’’ Heys said.
“She’s still very new and very much learning what it’s all about but she’s obviously performed well in her two starts.
“She needs a bit more racing yet to see where she is going to get to, she’s at a level where it appears she might have better grades in her but that might not be until down the track too.”
Heys is more than happy with how Po Kare Kare has returned from a spell but warns, while she was $3.70 favourite with TAB on Tuesday, she’s there to run well but will benefit from the run.
James McDonald rides her from an inside gate and the Warwick Farm trainer said he hopes the track can improve a bit as he feels she should get through a heavy surface but will excel more on top of the ground.
“She’s drawn a gate so we’ll be guided by what the track’s doing,’’ he said.
“She did trial on the heavy ground this time in. How James negotiates it I’ll leave it up to him.
“I don’t want to overthink it, all I want to see is the last 100m be the best part of the race.
“This time in she’s a bit stronger, she seems fresh enough that in her trials she will handle 1100m. It will bring her on to navigate where we go for the preparation.”
– Racing NSW