Material Man has been a thorn in the side of Pounamu, but Alan Mathews thinks his Group 1 champion can turn the tables in the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m).
The Muchea trainer is banking on a distance rise and a fitness boost to help Pounamu defeat his winter season nemesis.
Pounamu gets his final chance of the winter season to topple Material Man after running third to the Justin Warwick-trained galloper in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) and Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m).
Aside from bragging rights and prize money, the opportunity to deny Material Man a slice of local racing history is also on offer for Pounamu on Saturday.
If successful Material Man becomes the first horse to win the Belmont Sprint, the Hyperion Stakes and Strickland Stakes treble since the winter series commenced in 2011.
On the back of his commanding performances, Material Man is a short-priced favourite ($1.50) to win the Strickland Stakes, but Mathews thinks Pounamu, the $3.80 second elect, gets his best chance to win.
“We’ve done our best to get him to where he is and the 2000m should suit,” Mathews told Tabradio.
“The horse has done really well and fingers crossed we can get our turn.
“I’m hoping the extra distance and another run under his belt will suit.
“It appears every bit of work we are giving him is improving him.
“It’s sort of his grand final at this stage of the year.
“Paddy (Carbery) galloped him Tuesday morning and thought that was his best work since the spring.”
Warwick is searching for his first success in the Strickland Stakes and said Material Man had not gone backwards since his victory in the Hyperion Stakes two weeks ago.
“He is just his normal self and will go on like he normally does,” Warwick said.
“He has trimmed up a little since his last run and we have increased his work a little bit as he is up to 2000m now.
“Basically everything is in order.”