Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse may be in the middle of a much-publicised controversy but she is not losing focus on the task at hand.
The high profile trainer always takes a strong team north to Brisbane’s winter carnival and one of her top hopes this year will be three-year-old stayer Hippopus.
The High Chaparral colt is still in the early stages of his career but Waterhouse will catapult him into Group 1 weight-for-age company in Saturday week’s Doomben Cup (2000m).
Group 1-winning jockey Tim Clark, who has recently returned from a stint in Hong Kong, guided Hippopus through a piece of routine work on Tuesday and provided a glowing report to Waterhouse.
“Very good and very nice is how Tim described Hippopus after the VRC St Leger winner breezed over 1400m this morning,” Waterhouse said in her blog.
“Hippopus was Tim’s second best of the morning. This son of High Chaparral will head to the Doomben Cup next week.”
Waterhouse had the option of keeping the progressive stayer to his age group in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate this weekend but will wait a week to chase Group 1 honours and a share of $500,000 in prizemoney.
Also on the winter agenda for Hippopus is next month’s Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) after he pressed his claims for bigger things with a three-length win in the VRC St Leger (2800m) last month.
The three-year-old is a $6.50 Queensland Derby second favourite and occupies the fifth line of betting at $13 in the Doomben Cup market.
Favourite for the Doomben Cup is 2012 winter star Lights Of Heaven ($3.20) who took out the Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Lights Of Heaven will be out to avenge last year’s result where she finished second to German import Mawingo.