Brisbane’s leading trainer Robert Heathcote is left with just one representative in Saturday’s 2011 Keith Noud Quality Handicap at Eagle Farm following the unfortunate withdrawal of his top chance Work The Room due to a career threatening injury.
Bel Esprit six-year-old Work The Room was installed as one of the top chances in the Luxbet markets for the $100,000 Listed Keith Noud Quality Handicap (1200m) having won their first-up assignment at the track and distance on November 12.
This year’s Tattersall’s Mile winner, however, could have run their last race after suffering from a bowed tendon during a track workout at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning.
Heathcote learned of the news from his staff, the dedicated horseman currently in New Zealand looking at studs, and was devastated hearing the extent of Work The Room’s injury that he will inspect personally when he returns to Australia on Friday.
“Unfortunately he’s out of the Keith Noud and his (racing) future is grim after bowing a tendon while working at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve spoken to my staff while I’ve been here in New Zealand and it doesn’t sound good.
“I feel gutted especially after he produced such an enormous win last start.
“From what my staff has told me his career is probably finished but I’ll assess him myself and get another opinion when I get home tomorrow.
“But it looks fairly grim.”
Work The Room, a half-brother to the now retired champion stayer Zipping, is lightly-raced for their age having started 15 times, their career record standing at five wins and five minor placings for $168,851 in prize money.
They have been under Heathcote’s preparation since midway through this year having been transferred from their original trainer Colin Little.
Despite the disappointment of losing Work The Room, Heathcote is keeping his head up and is hoping for a strong Keith Noud Quality performance from his remaining contender Excellantes.
The Falvelon four-year-old also resumed at Eagle Farm on November 12 after a three and a half month break, the gelding running a brave second to their stablemate.
An ultra-consistent record of five wins and six placings from 12 starts to date, Excellantes has a strong chance to step up to stakes company on Saturday and is currently paying $8.50 in the Luxbet markets that are led by Ascot Handicap winner Essington ($4) and the Kelso Wood-trained Belltone ($4.20).
Excellantes is drawn in barrier 12, into 11 with the withdrawal of Work The Room, and will be ridden by Brad Stewart on the 53kg minimum.
“Statistics don’t lie as he’s never won first-up and he’s unbeaten second-up,” Heathcote said of Excellantes.
“He’s got a wide barrier which will make things harder for him but he’s got good gate speed to get across.
“It’s a very strong race and it deserves its Listed status.”
Heathcote has eight other acceptors racing at Eagle Farm on Saturday including Solzhenitsyn in the last, a horse also originally nominated for the Keith Noud.
Drawn on the rails for the $45,000 David Jones Class 6 Handicap (1200m), St Petersburg five-year-old Solzhenitsyn races for the first time since posting three straight wins in Brisbane during July and August.
If they return in the same form they went out in then Heathcote will continue onto the Brisbane Summer Series with the gelding, the Doomben Triple Crown opening with the $200,000 Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m) on December 4, before freshening them up for a 2012 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign.
“I nominated him for the Keith Noud but I purposely decided to run him in the Class Six,” Heathcote said.
“He gets into that race well at the weights and he’ll be hard to beat.
“He’ll go on to the Summer Series if he runs well before ultimately being aimed at the Brisbane Winter Carnival next year.”
The 2011 In Memory of Corey Gilby Keith Noud Quality Handicap is due to run as Eagle Farm Race 7 at 4:10pm (local time) on Saturday.
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