HEY BIG SPLENDA is a step closer to returning to the racetrack after tuning up with his second barrier trial this preparation at the Gold Coast on Tuesday morning.

The chestnut 3YO, who is owned by the Women in Racing partnership, stepped out on his home track and, despite over-racing in the early stages, eventually settled nicely under Andrew Mallyon to finish third in his heat.

“He was quite sharply away from the barriers, but there wasn’t much speed on and he wanted to get on with it for the first 200 to 300 metres, which wasn’t ideal,” said Trent.

“Andrew was pretty kind to him after that, and I thought he still finished off pretty nicely in the end. We’ll put a bit more work into him before we take him back to the races, but he was nice and bright and came through the trial well.”

Having considered all their options, at this stage the team at Edmonds Racing are leaning towards kicking him off in the QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap over 1100m at Rockhampton on Saturday, 10 July.

The back-up options are either the QTIS Benchmark 62 race for three-year-olds at Warwick next Sunday, or next Saturday’s QTIS Benchmark 65 race at the Gold Coast.

“The 1100-metre race at Rockhampton could be a good target for him, depending on the strength of the field,” said Trent.

“They tend to run fast speeds up there, which would suit him and help him relax in the run. It also gives us a bit more time to have him properly screwed down.”