Robert Heathcote has Hopfgarten, Bewhatyouwannabe and Lordag in the 2015 Bernborough Handicap field, but the leading Brisbane trainer admits that Hopfgarten is easily his best chance in the Listed event at Doomben on Saturday.
Hopfgarten was given the chance to compete at the highest level of racing during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he performed well without winning in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) before he was sent back to Brisbane after missing the placings in both the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (1600m) and the Listed James Boag’s Symphony Stakes (1800m).
He returned to Brisbane racing in the Listed Brisbane Handicap (1640m) at Doomben on December 5 and he produced a brave effort to finish a very close second behind the in-form Traveston Girl.
Heathcote believes that Hopfgarten may have benefited from his run in the Brisbane Handicap and he is confident that the son of Mossman will go very close again in the 2015 Bernborough Handicap this weekend.
“He was certainly unlucky down in Melbourne and we brought him back home and gave him a mini freshen-up,” Heathcote said.
“When you look at his form on paper, it would seem like a failed experiment to bring him down there, but he had no luck whatsoever and he ran some really nice races.
“He was really brave two weeks ago in the Brisbane Handicap.
“He only went down a head and he probably hit the front with 50 metres to go.
“Not having have run for a month, it was a very brave run.
“I think he will be extremely competitive once again – even with the 59 kilos in the time-honoured Bernborough Handicap on Saturday.”
Hopfgarten is joined in the Bernborough Handicap field by stablemates Bewhatyouwannabe and Lordag, but both horses would likely need to improve on their recent performs to return to winning form.
Bewhatyouwannabe took out the Listed Members’ Handicap (1600m) at Doomben during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and he has performed inconsistently in three race starts during his summer campaign, while Lordag will make his debut at Listed level following his third place finish in Heat 2 Of The Origin Jockey Series on December 5.
Hopfgarten will face a tough assignment in the Bernborough Handicap as the likes of Worthy Cause, Centre Pivot, Traveston Girl, Victory Hotel, Blue Lion, Role Model and Anna Lizzie have been included in the field for the $175,000 race.