Eagle Farm trainer Robert Heathcote will still pursue a start in the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday with Hopfgarten despite the seven year old drawing a wide barrier.
Hopfgarten will jump one from barrier thirteen in the field that has been reduced to fourteen runners following the early scratching of the Desleigh Forster trained Someday.
Heathcote had considered leaving Hopfgarten in Brisbane but the lure of a $100,000 bonus for winning or a $50,000 bonus for filling a minor placing in the Villiers Stakes and then going on to win the Listed $300,000 Bernborough Handicap (1600m) at Doomben on December 30 was enough incentive to proceed with the trip.
“I thought about not going after the draw but the incentives are still there so he’ll run,” Heathcote told Racing Queensland News.
“There’s a $100,000 bonus if he wins the Villiers and Bernborough Handicap and there’s a $50,000 bonus if he places in the Villiers and wins the Bernborough.
“It’s disappointing and our chances have nosedived after the barrier draw.
“But he drew the same barrier in last year’s Villiers and ran home strongly to run fifth, only two lengths away.”
Heathcote is hoping for a better result than in last year’s Villiers Stakes when Hopfgarten ran an even race to finish fifth to Sense Of Occasion.
Sydney based jockey Christian Reith replaces Ron Stewart who has been aboard Hopfgarten for his last two starts that resulted in a third to Villiers Stakes rival Crack Me Up in the Listed $100,000 Recognition Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on November 25 followed by a second to Cantbuybetter in the Listed $100,000 Brisbane Handicap (1600m) at Doomben on December 9.
Hopfgarten has been a drifter in the betting for the Villiers Stakes and after opening at $15 is now an $18 chance on Thursday afternoon with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The James Cummings trained Interlocuter heads up the market order at $3.60 ahead of Chris Waller’s Irish import Mister Sea Wolf at $5.50 and Recognition Stakes winner Crack Me Up at $7.