Trainer Alan Mathews is daring to dream, but how far his vision can turn to reality will take firmer shape after Pounamu takes on a crack line-up in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
In all probability Pounamu is unlikely to win first-up in Melbourne, the TAB have him rated a $26 chance, but for Mathews there are bigger fish to fry later in the spring, including the Caulfield Cup and potentially the Melbourne Cup.
Pounamu, who shared honours as Western Australia’s best for the past season with Material Man, enjoyed a golden run in 2017 when he won the Group 1 Kinston Town Classic (1800m) and the Group 2 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m).
The Authorised gelding, who has amassed $1.5 in stake earnings, currently sits 30th in the Caulfield Cup order of entry and has been allocated 54.kg in the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cups.
Mathews said how far Pounamu progressed and the options open to the seven-year-old will largely be determined after his run in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
“We are going to know a lot more of what we are up to after Saturday,” Mathews told Tabradio.
“We will know which direction to go, whether we pack our bags and come home or head down a nice path and find something easier.
“He deserves to be here, but I am not expecting miracles and want him to be hitting the line.
“If he shows he deserves to be here we would be happy.”
Pounamu, to be ridden for the first time by Brett Prebble, will jump from barrier three.
The seven-year-old hasn’t raced since finishing seventh to Rebel King in the Listed Idyllic Prince Stakes (1300m) at Belmont on September 1.
It was Pounamu’s first run after three placings behind Material Man in the Belmont Sprint (1400m), Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and Strickland Stakes (2000m) in June.
Mathews said he had mixed views on Pounamu’s first-up performance in the Idyllic Prince Stakes.
“I was disappointed, but Paddy (Carbery) said it was a lot better than first thought,” Mathews said.
“His best work was the last 50m and he was just starting to chime in.
“The owner has always told me he was a stayer but until the Ted Van Heemst (Stakes) I wasn’t convinced.
“From that day on I think he has shown that he wants to be a stayer.”