Premiership winning trainer Robert Heathcote has gone for apprentice Matthew McGillivary’s 2kg claim to help Jopa find his way back into the winner’s circle at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
McGillivray takes over on Jopa in the $65,000 Coastline BMW 7 Series Handicap (1200m) from former South African jockey Robbie Fraad who has been aboard the eight year old at his two previous runs this campaign.
Fraad produced a first class ride on Jopa at his first run back from a spell to score a three and a quarter lengths win in a $65,000 Mount Franklin Open Handicap (1050m) at Doomben on December 12.
Dropping back in class this week to an Open Handicap, Heathcote made the decision to reduce Jopa’s 59kg original handicap to 57kg and give McGillivary a chance to record another win on the eight year old after the pair saluted in a 1350m BenchMark 85 Handicap at Doomben in April last year.
“Jopa is paying for his consistency and got 59 kilograms in the original weights,” Heathcote told AAP.
“Jopa was a good winner first-up and it is a sharp drop in weight since his last-start ninth in the Goldmarket Handicap on Boxing Day.”
Jopa is a veteran of sixty-one starts and has visited the winner’s stall on ten occasions, but has yet to rack up the number one spot from five attempts at the Sunshine Coast.
But bookmakers at Ladbrokes.com.au have Jopa (barrier 7) as one of the main chances and in an open betting race have him marked as a $6 chance.
Heathcote will also saddle up the $4.60 favourite, Dream Choice, who will be having his first start for the stable since being transferred from the Gai Waterhouse establishment.
Dream Choice will be ridden by Michael Cahill and will jump from barrier eleven in the fourteen horse field.
“He is owned by Dynamic Syndications and they felt he was being weighted out of Sydney racing. He is much better placed up here,” Heathcote said.
“There have been more than a few Sydney horses come here and win in open company in recent years.”
Dream Choice has had a short freshen since finishing fifth to Start Wondering in an $85,000 BenchMark 85 Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill on December 19.
Coastline BMW Series 7 Handicap market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.60 Dream Choice, $5 Le Cap, $5.50 Divine Service, $6 Jopa, $9 Whiskey Allround, $13 Final Crescendo, $14 Falino, Pillar Of Creation, $16 Easy Running, $31 Vintage Moss, G’Day Old Mate, $34 Typhoon Red, $41 Craiglea Cruz, Mishani Warrior.