Premiership winning trainer Robert Heathcote is hoping that class will carry Hopfgarten to victory in the Listed $100,000 Queensland Bus Industry Council Brisbane Handicap (1640m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Heathcote can see the odds stacking up against Hopfgarten who has to carry the top weight of 59kg as well as having to overcome barrier twelve in the fourteen horse field from the tricky 1640m starting point.
Hopfgarten has also just returned from an unsuccessful Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign that produced four unplaced efforts, two at Group 1 level, and Heathcote said that he has been a bit easy on the five year old to help him get over the trip.
“He might just need this run but you can never discount class as it can carry you a long way,” Heathcote told Racing Queensland News.
“His barrier and his big weight are against him but he may be a little soft for this after just returning home from Melbourne.”
Heathcote tested the waters with Hopfgarten in Melbourne but the Mossman gelding couldn’t match it against the best with a twelfth to Stratum Star in the Group 1 $400,000 Anthea Crawford Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) followed by a tenth to Lucky Hussler in the Group 1 $400,000 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) both at Caulfield.
Heathcote then took Hopfgarten to Moonee Valley for a sixth to Turn Me Loose in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) and then he finished sixth to Awesome Rock in the Listed $150,000 James Boag’s Symphony Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.
The Tony Gollan trained Traveston Girl returned to the winning list with an all the way win in the Listed $100,000 Tattersall’s Recognition Stakes (1600m) at Doomben two weeks ago and Heathcote naturally considered her the one to beat again in the Brisbane Handicap.
“Traveston Girl has to be the one to beat on her last win,” Heathcote said.
“She gets five kilos off my bloke which is a lot of weight to concede.
“But if Hopfgarten was at the top of his game I’d be a lot more confident. I’ve just got a funny feeling he might need the run.”
Traveston Girl has everything going for her to make it back to back wins at Doomben and will carry 5kg less than Hopfgarten and has drawn ideally at barrier two.
Whatever Hopfgraten does on the weekend Heathcote is confident he will improve on and he will use the Listed $175,000 Bernborough Handicap (1600m) at Doomben in a fortnight as his final lead up run for the $1m Magic Millions Trophy (1800m) at the Gold Coast on January 9.
“He’ll be a lot fitter for his next run in the Bernborough Handicap then it’s on to the Magic Millions Trophy,” Heathcote said.
Traveston Girl heads the market order at $3.20 at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Brisbane Handicap with Hopfgarten on the second line of betting at $4.80.
Heathcote will also saddle up Bewhatyouwannabe who is one of the outsiders of the field at $21.
Even though Bewhatyouwannabe is at long odds, Heathcote is still giving hm a rough chance of causing an upset.
“He was a bit unlucky last run and he was second up from a break,” Heathcote said.
“He’s a genuine chance if we get a dry track.
“I probably still favour Hopfgarten because of his class but I won’t be surprised to see Bewhatyouwannabe run a cheeky race.”
Brisbane Handicap market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.20 Traveston Girl, $4.80 Hopfgarten, $8 Best Of The Rest, Jumbo Prince, $10 Landlocked, Shotover River, $16 First Bloom, $19 Darci Be Good, $21 Victory Hotel, Faust, Bewhatyouwannabe, $34 Trakstar, $61 Revitalise, $101 Tints.
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