Trainer Neville Parnham is assessing a range of options for his talented three-year-old Bustler.
The WA Hall Of Fame trainer is leaning towards Saturday’s Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) or a 1200m ratings race on the same programme at Belmont’s season-opening meeting.
On the surface the Belmont Sprint seems the obvious choice for Bustler given the prize difference and race status, but Parnham is keeping his options open.
“Probably the Belmont Sprint,” said Parnham on Tabradio.
“1400m and weight-for-age conditions are not too bad for him.
“I’ll look at the field and assess his chances in both races and make a decision.
“It’s not completely ideal coming back to 1200m in the other race, but depends what goes into that.”
Bustler underlined his promise last year when he win the Listed Fairetha Stakes (1400m) at Ascot.
He then ran into the power of Amelia’s Jewel, finishing runner-up in the WA Guineas (1600m) and a competitive fifth in the Group 1 Northerly Stakes (1800m) to the boom filly.
After going unplaced in the Group 3 Roma Cup (1100m) and The Quokka (1200m) this campaign, Buster proved too classy in winning a 1400m ratings race at Ascot two weeks ago.
Parnham said Buster has thrived since the win.
“The horse has pulled up really, really well from that win last Saturday week,” Parnham said.
“I feel the way he has come out of it he’s probably peaking now.”
Parnham says he’ll be taking it one race at a time with Bustler, but the conditions of the Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m) in June appears a suitable race for the Playing God gelding.
“I’m not exactly sure of what plans I’ve got, but I’ll take it race by race and week to week,” Parnham said.
“He looks well served in a race like the Belmont Guineas where it’s set weights and the handicapper can’t get hold of him.
“The Raconteur (1400m) is set weight and penalties and that could be an option.
“If I went to the Belmont Sprint on Saturday he could also go to the Hyperion (Stakes) over the mile and then into the Guineas.
“We’ll see how it goes and I’m leaning to the Belmont Sprint on Saturday, but we’ll see what the fields bring us tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.”
The Hyperion Stakes will be run at Belmont on May 27 and the Belmont Guineas on June 17.