The very talented Whittaker will resume at Addington on Friday night, the first run of the new season for the son of Sportswriter.
The three-win pacer is the veteran of just 10 starts, and after the odd minor issue along the way, trainer Mark Jones is confident the now-four-year-old is ready to stand up.
Whittaker brilliantly took out a winning double in Southland at the beginning of the year and looked on track for the Derbies, but things didn’t go altogether as planned and he finished his season with a 10th at Addington back in May.
“I’m pleased with how he’s come up. He has had two trials and seems good,” said Jones.
“He looks way better and to be honest I wasn’t happy with him last season. He seems a lot better now.
“But he’s in a tough grade. Look at the field this week, a number of them are nearly free-for-all sort of horses.”
After a good winter build-up, Jones is strongly considering mapping out an Australian campaign for the Queensland-owned pacer, his desire to build on his earlier plan to have a base at Menangle coming closer to fruition, and he is likely to ‘work in with’ fellow trainer Tim Butt in a 20-horse barn at Sydney’s metropolitan track.
“Whittaker will go to Menangle. Probably win one here and go. After all, he is a maiden over there and for a horse that has won only three races, slaughtered by the handicapping here.
“Horses like The Bus (one win) will also head that way eventually.”
Meanwhile, star trotter Eyre I Come, a Group one winner last season in the NZ Trotting Championship at Addington, has been sent north to Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis for an Auckland campaign, beginning this Friday in a $17,000 sprint over 1700m.
“He’s better up there, handicaps a bit fairer, and the racing suits him,” said Mark.
“I could sit and wait for Cup time in Canterbury, but even the Kaikoura race would see him off 15 metres. If he’s going good at Auckland he could come home for the Dominion, if not, he can stay up there and race.” Stu Bailey