Heathcote Chasing More Interstate Success In Toorak Handicap

Leading Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote is chasing his second winner in Victoria in as many weeks when Solzhenitsyn defends his title in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Solzhenitsyn will become the firsr horse to win back-to-back Toorak Handicaps since Umrum in 2000 if he is successful on Saturday.

Solzhenitsyn will become the firsr horse to win back-to-back Toorak Handicaps since Umrum in 2000 if he is successful on Saturday. Photo by: Daniel Costello

Heathcote had his first interstate winner of the season at Flemington on Saturday, after Buffering and Solzhenitsyn were both placed at Group 1 level last weekend, when Fire Up Fifi stormed home late to record an impressive victory in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes (1410m) and Solzhenitsyn looks well placed to keep the winning run going this weekend.

Solzhenitsyn heads into the Toorak Handicap on the back of impressive performances in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and Heathcote told RSN that the seven-year-old is in outstanding condition.

“I am very happy with him,” Heathcote said.

Melissa (Leitch) is down there at Flemington with him at the moment and she knows this horse as well as anybody.

“She has been with him since we first got him from New Zealand and Mel sad that he has never been better.

“He has come through that run in great order and we go into the Toorak with what we believe is a horse at the top of his game.”

Solzhenitsyn will carry 55.5kg in the Toorak Handicap, three and a half kilograms more than he carried last year, and Heathcote said that he was delighted with the weight.

“I nearly fell over; I went straight to the fridge,” Heathcote said.

“I am very happy with that; I think I owe a drink to King Mufhasa’s connections there.”

Leading jockey Nash Rawiller partnered Solzhenitsyn for the first time in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and was critical of a tactical error he made on the St Petersburg gelding but will get the opportunity to atone for his perceived mistake this weekend.

“I asked him if he wanted to ride him in the Toorak and he jumped on it,” Heathcote said of Rawiller.

“I’m happy to have him on, I know he has been in the media a bit these last few days, but he is still a champion rider.”

Solzhenitsyn is set to face former winner King Mufhasa as well as Group 1 winners Linton, December Draw, Luckygray, Ferlax and Yosei in the Toorak Handicap on Saturday.

About The Author

Thomas Hackett

Thomas is a passionate and opinionated racing journalist and punter who has been obsessed with horse racing since he backed Saintly to win the 1996 Melbourne Cup. An international racing enthusiast, he has his finger on the pulse of racing news not just from Australia but all around the world.

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