“He is not scintillating or anything special. He jumps, lobs the box-seat, is genuine, fights hard to the line and gets the job done.”
Trainer Alan Mathews is referring to Material Man, favourite and the biggest threat to his charge, Pounamu, in the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) at Belmont on Saturday.
Material Man and Pounamu clash for the fifth time with the ledger reading two wins a piece.
Pounamu defeated Material Man in last year’s Kingston Town Classic (1800m) and Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m).
Material Man struck back on New Year’s Day in the Perth Cup and last fortnight when first-up in the Belmont Sprint (1400m).
Mathews is hoping Pounamu can rebound and turn the tables after running third behind Material Man in the Belmont Sprint.
Mathews is banking on fitness and a step-up in distance to give Pounamu the winning edge.
“It’s just a natural progression the first-up run improving him,” Mathews told Tabradio.
“He has shown before that he is capable.
“Our hope is Material Man can get some bad luck and we can outsprint him.
“But, I’m not sure we can rely on that all the time.”
Material Man ($1.90) and Pounamu ($3.80) sit one-two in TAB markets. Great Shot is next at $4 and the only other runner under double figures.
Material Man, to be ridden by Lucy Warwick, has drawn barrier one. Pat Carbery will ride Pounamu. The six-year-old will start from gate two.
Great Shot, runner-up to Material Man in the Belmont Sprint, is expected to cross and lead from the second widest gate in the field of nine.
“It will be an interesting race and Great Shot will be in front,” Mathews said.
“Material Man will stalk the lead and hopefully from our barrier we are not giving them too much of a head start.”
The Belmont Sprint is the middle leg of a feature race treble for Pounamu. A 2000 metre trip in the Strickland Stakes on June 30 to wind up his winter campaign before a possible trip to Melbourne in the spring.
“The only thing in the back of my mind and even Paddy (Pat Carbery) said the other day is after the Van Heemst and the Perth Cup this horse is showing signs that he wants to be a stayer,” Mathews said.
“If there is a downside that’s the only thing to it, he might want to be a genuine staying mile and half type horse now.”