Trainer Robert Heathcote has revealed that he would like to see Hopfgarten settled closed to the speed in the 2015 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday.
Hopfgarten returned to the races in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 26 and he could finish no better than 12th after being settled at the tail of the field, but he never found clear running and he ran the fastest last 1000 metres and 800 metres of the race.
The Mossman gelding has shown plenty of tactical versatility during his racing career to date and Heathcote told Racing Ahead that he expects jockey Glen Colless to settle the five-year-old in the first half of the Toorak Handicap field.
“That is something I will leave up to Glen, but he has won in the past leading,” Heathcote said.
“I don’t see us that close to the speed, but barrier one is an advantage initially and the question is going to be can Glen get him out at the right time around the 600.
“I was hoping that he would be maybe third or fourth pair back.”
Hopfgarten was never able to fully let down in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, but Heathcote still believes that the Toowoomba Cup placegetter took plenty of benefit from the run and he said that the progressive galloper impressed onlookers with his final piece of serious trackwork ahead of the 2015 Toorak Handicap.
“I didn’t get to personally see his trackwork on Tuesday, but Warren Huntly clocked him for me and he was quite impressive,” Heathcote said.
“He ran nice time, Melanie was on top and she said that he gave her a really nice feel.
“Hopefully he has taken something out of that relatively soft run in the Sir Rupert Clarke.”
Heathcote is chasing his third win in the Toorak Handicap after he took out the race in 2012 and 2013 with Solzhenitsyn – a horse that he has previously compared to Hopfgarten.
Hopfgarten is currently available at 2015 Toorak Handicap odds of $18 with Ladbrokes and he is on the tenth line of betting behind Disposition ($4.80), Lucky Hussler ($5.50), Stratum Star ($6.50), Noble Protector ($9), Strawberry Boy ($13), Abidewithme ($13), Ninth Legion ($15), Hi World ($15) and Flamingo Star ($17).