Hopfgarten will face the toughest test of his racing career in the 2015 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and trainer Robert Heathcote is hopeful that the talented galloper can replicate the feats of former stablemate Solzhenitsyn in the Group 1 event at Caulfield tomorrow.
Solzhenitsyn did not have much of a reputation outside of Queensland when Heathcote sent him to Melbourne for the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival, but he finished third behind Moment Of Change in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and he took out the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) before he finished in the exact same positions in both races 12 months later.
Hopfgarten showed that he was worthy of a chance in a race like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes when he finished a more than credible fifth behind Pornichet in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane on May 9 and Heathcote is hopeful that the Mossman gelding can run a big race in the Group 1 event this weekend.
“He has travelled down really well,” Heathcote told Racing Ahead.
“We are going into the race with high hopes that he will race well, but when you look at it he is going Melbourne way for the first time, it is his first time at Caulfield, he has a wide barrier and it is a quality Group 1 handicap.
“There are a few negatives there, but he is a tenacious little horse and I think that he has earnt the right to go around in a race like this.
“He will follow a similar path to Solzhenitsyn, who I brought down there and had a lot of success with.
“When I left Brisbane with Solzhenitsyn he wasn’t the star that he became and hopefully Hopfgarten can emulate that.
“He has run really well for me first-up in the past and I think that he can run well fresh.”
Hopfgarten’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes assignment was made even tougher when he was allocated barrier 14 when the final field was released earlier in the week, but Heathcote is confident that Brisbane-based hoop Glen Colless will settle the five-year-old in the right position.
Heathcote said that Hopfgarten has shown a great deal of tactical versatility during his racing career to date, but he confirmed that he will leave the riding tactics up to Colless.
“There looks like there is a tonne of speed in the race,” Heathcote said.
“Glen Colless is a material rider and he has an uncanny knack of being able to position horses really well, particularly from wide barriers.
“He has just done it time and time again up here in Queensland and I had no hesitation in asking Glen if he wanted to take the ride.
“Glen didn’t decided immediately, he jumped him out for me last Tuesday and the horse obviously made quite an impression on Glen and he accepted the ride.
“I will be leaving the tactics up to Glen, he is one of those riders that seems to have the 360 vision when they jump out of the barriers and the ability to position the horses.”
Hopfgarten is currently available at 2015 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes odds of $34 with Ladbrokes, while Disposition ($3.80) is a clear favourite from Under The Louvre ($5.50) and Stratum Star ($7).