After twelve years of training Brisbane’s Rob Heathcote only just broke his Group 1 maiden last month, and following the ideal draw for his up-and-coming mare Tomboy in the 2012 Coolmore Classic barriers for Saturday his chances of another elite level have enjoyed a boost.
Heathcote scored his biggest win as a trainer to date at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Day when Woorim scored an upset win the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
He came devastatingly close a fortnight later when one of his stable stars Buffering was run down to finish second in a photo result with Hay List in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
“I’ve had more Group 1 runners in the last few months than I’ve had in the previous 12 years I’ve been training,” Heathcote said this week.
“It’s been a real buzz and it’s fantastic to be competitive at this level.”
Buffering and Woorim will both get another chance against hulking Gosford champ Hay List in the $500,000 Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley this Friday night.
“Hay List deserves to be an odds-on favourite but Buffering can make it hard for him,” Heathcote said.
“We won’t be handing it on a plate to Hay List and we’ll put the pressure on early if they plan to lead on him.
“The small field in a fast-run race will also suit Woorim.”
But they aren’t his only Group 1 hopes this weekend.
Over in Sydney Heathcote will saddle up his four-year-old Murphy’s Blu Boy mare Tomboy against a crack field in the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Tomboy was the big winner in the Coolmore Classic barrier draw coming up with the inside alley, an advantage that will only hold if the rain stays away in Sydney for Saturday’s clash.
Saturday will be her first look at a Group field, and while it is an obvious and daunting class rise Tomboy has earned her shot according to Heathcote.
“The Coolmore is a big jump in class for Tomboy but I expect her to run very well,” Heathcote said.
“She’s proven herself in Brisbane and the only doubt is whether she’s got the class to measure up in this company.”
A winner of eight of her 15 career starts to date including over the Coolmore Classic distance of 1500-metres three starts back at Eagle Farm Tomboy also makes her interstate debut on Saturday.
She was last seen finishing a long-neck away second to Steel Zip in the Listed Tattersall’s Members’ Cup (1600m) at Eagle Farm on a Heavy (9) track back on March 3.
It was a disappointing result, Tomboy found to have pulled up lame after the race following the mare being galloped on during the run.
Showing she had come through that well, however, Tomboy impressed Heathcote with a track gallop at Eagle Farm last weekend and travels to Sydney today.
One thing giving Heathcote added confidence for Saturday is that ace hoop Craig Williams chased the ride on Tomboy.
“I take a lot of comfort after Craig Williams rang for the ride,” Heathcote said.
“I expected Jim Byrne to ride Tomboy until he rang on Saturday to tell me he’d been stood down by stewards (for testing positive to an appetite suppressant).
“I deliberately held off booking a flight for Jim until Monday as I wasn’t sure whether Tomboy would get a run.
“She’s a certain starter now but I got a real shock when Jim rang to tell me his news.”
Among Tomboy’s most notable Coolmore Classic rivals are Epsom Handicap winner Secret Admirer, last-start Millie Fox Stakes winner in the wet Red Tracer, Guy Walter’s brilliant filly Streama and the in-form Steps In Time.
Coolmore Classic odds will be released at bookmaker.com.au shortly.
Whether it is an upset by Tomboy or one of the shorter-priced fancies in the Coolmore you want to get behind this year, bookmaker.com.au will be offering the best prices.