Trainer Robert Heathcote has confirmed that talented gelding Hopfgarten will contest the 2014 Recognition Stakes at Doomben on Saturday.
Hopfgarten started his summer preparation with a narrow win over Rudy and Sir Moments in the Padua College Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on November 1, but failed to fire when ninth in the Super Starfish Handicap (1400m) at the Gold Coast on November 15.
Heathcote told Racing Ahead this morning that Hopfgarten had been affected by a minor injury during his disappointing Super Starfish Handicap, but the leading Brisbane trainer is confident that the Mossman gelding has recovered from the issue and will be more that competitive in the Recognition Stakes this weekend.
“He had a little setback in his second-up run following his very good first-up win,” Heathcote said.
“He went to the Gold Coast and he jumped up well, but then he failed to pick up the bit and settle and we subsequently found that he had an issue in behind with a muscle issue.
“We have since had that corrected and he had a nice gallop this morning and the rider gave me a thumbs up.
“We think we have it corrected.
“Damian Browne will ride him and he has a fantastic record on the horse and he has a fantastic record over the mile.
“He will be more than competitive.”
Hopfgarten recorded four straight victories during his winter preparation and stamped himself as a horse to watch when he scored an impressive win in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 26.
The talented gelding was outpaced when 13th in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 17, but he produced an improved performance when fourth in the Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 before he ended his campaign with a win in the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at Caloundra on June 28.
The 2014 Recognition Stakes has drawn a strong group of nominations including Tony Mc Evoy-trained Mouro, who is a chance of making his Brisbane racing debut after he returned to racing with a close second behind Heart Testa in the Cellarbrations Kingswood Handicap (1350m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 15.
Other notable horses in the Recognition Stakes nominations include Ipswich Cup winner Brave Ali, consistent gelding Darci Be Good, talented gelding Rudy, last start winner Imperil and veteran mare Zoomania.