It was love at first sight when Bryce Heys spotted Po Kare Kare (NZ) at a yearling sale in New Zealand, but the honeymoon period didn’t last long.
Heys had ventured to the 2020 Karaka Sale to buy another horse and it was here that the daughter of Savabeel caught his eye. The trainer became intent on not leaving the sale without her and he got his wish, snapping her up for $NZ100,000.
“Six months later I was hating myself because of how temperamental she was,” Heys said. “She was a flighty, highly-strung filly and she had some really bad habits in terms of working her out on the track.”
It took those old principles of time and patience to begin to turn Po Kare Kare’s behaviour around. Happily for Heys, she also started to show some ability, enough for the trainer to seek out and buy her half-sister at last year’s Inglis Premier Sale in Melbourne.
But a couple of days after that purchase, Po Kare Kare (NZ) again left Heys questioning his sanity.
“I bought the younger sister on the Monday and Po Kare Kare trialled on the Tuesday,” Heys said. “She trialled terrible, which was a bit of an egg-on-face moment. But it is all trending in the right direction now.”
It took two non-racing preparations and six barrier trials for Po Kare Kare (NZ) to finally make her debut in January, finishing third at Warwick Farm before breaking her maiden at Canterbury a start later. She was given a break and returned with an eye-catching third on the Kensington track when she made a sustained run after bungling the start.
But it was the manner of her facile last-start win at Gosford that made form students really take notice, the filly settling last on the tight circuit and rounding up the field in a matter of effortless bounds.
Heys says that while her victory was “visually impressive”, Saturday’s Precise Air Handicap (1300m) is another important step and critical in determining future plans for the three-year-old.
“We will see what Saturday brings but the plan would be to run Saturday and if she was OK, to give her one more and that would be it, regardless of what transpires,” he said.
“Whether the spring is too soon, she will tell us that in her next two starts. We just want to see her run well and we’re happy to be going to Randwick on Saturday with a horse that might be a chance.”
Po Kare Kare (NZ) is a $3.90 favourite for Saturday’s race with Kerrin McEvoy to ride.