Excellantes has been allocated the top-weight of 59 kilograms for the 2014 Ascot Handicap, but trainer Robert Heathcote believes that the consistent gelding can return to winning form in the Listed race at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Excellantes took out the Listed Winning Edge Hinkler Quality (1200m) at Eagle Farm on April 19 and after failing to fire in the Listed Bribie Handicap (1110m) at the same venue on May 10 returned to a semblance of his best form with a third place finish in the Listed Chief De Beers Quality (1110m) at Doomben on May 24 and a credible seventh in the Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 21.
Heathcote told Racing Queensland that he has been happy with the form of Excellantes during the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and he is confident that the six-year-old will be competitive in the Ascot Handicap this weekend.
“He ran a good race last start,” Heathcote said.
“He was back off the speed and had to do a bit of work with a big weight.
‘I’m happy with the way he’s going; he’s probably past his best but he’ll be very competitive.
“He’s not the type of horse who can travel away any more that’s why we didn’t look at the Ramornie with him next week.”
Excellantes has previously carried 60 kilograms to victory in the Westfield Chermside Handicap (1200m) at Doomben in 2012 and he had 59 kilograms on his back when he won the Coke Zero Handicap (1200m) at Doomben on February 1 earlier in this tear, but Heathcote admitted that he is still worried about the weight the Falvelon gelding will be asked to carry on Saturday.
“He’s a decent chance on Saturday but the 59 kilos is significant,” Heathcote said.
“He’s paid for his consistency over the years with the weight he gets but this is a winnable race for him and Damian has a good record on him.”
The Ascot Handicap is an extremely open betting race and there is very little splitting the leading chances in the betting market at Ladbrokes Australia.
Excellantes ($7), Seeking More ($7) and Bymonashee ($7) are currently locked in a three-way battle for favouritism, while there has also been support for Facile Tigre ($7.50), Steel Zip ($9.50), Metallurgical ($10) and La Tikka Rosa ($10).