Group 1 winning jockey Damian Brown is the secret weapon that will help Hopfgarten overcame a nightmare barrier in the Group 3 $125,000 XXXX Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Even though Eagle Farm trainer Robert Heathcote is not overly concerned with Hopfgarten’s wide barrier, sixteen in the originally draw, he is super confident that the skill and local knowledge of Browne will be enough to negate the setback.
“Whenever you draw wide you know it has made it that much harder but if there is one track that perhaps you can draw wide it is Caloundra because it is purpose built track with good run-ins for all the horses,” Heathcote told the Sportsman.
“And a bigger plus is Damian Browne who knows Caloundra better than any rider up there and has certainly got the best strike-rate and he knows this horse very well.””
“Hopfgarten is the type of horse who has won coming from last on a wet track but he’s also led and won his Group race, the Gunsynd Stakes a few runs back so he’s a versatile horse and hopefully Damian will ride the horse according to how the race pans out.”
Hopfgarten worked his way up through the classes and scored his fourth win on the trot in taking out the Group 3 $125,000 APHS Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Doomben on April 26.
The Mossman three year old then failed to run on on a leader’s bias track when fourteenth to Havana in the Group 3 $125,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 17 but was back on track with a fourth to Sir Moments in the Listed $125,000 Best Security Daybreak Lover (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 7.
The form line out of the Daybreak Lover is strong with Sir Moments winning the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm on May 31 at his previous start.
Hopfgarten has performed well at his last two runs over the 1600m and Heathcote is keen to see the three year old get his chance on the spacious Sunshine Coast track, especially if the surface has some moisture in it.
“I think the mile is his best distance,” Heathcote said.
“He won the Gunsynd and then I had to freshen him and drop him back to 1350m and that was the day when if you weren’t in the first few you had no chance and he subsequently ran a nice fourth behind Sir Moments which is good form.”
“He is ready for this mile on a track that is going to have a bit of give in the ground and being a Mossman, I think he’s best suited to that.”
Hopfgarten is currently marked at $6.50 for the Sunshine Coast Guineas with Ladbrokes.com.au behind last start Eagle Farm winner Architect at $4.80 and Palmera Lad at $5.