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Rob Heathcote may be without a runner in tomorrow’s Toowoomba Cup, but the Brisbane Premiership winning trainer is preparing to saddle up a double-pronged attack in the day’s feature race at Clifford Park, the 2012 Weetwood Handicap.
Running as Toowoomba Race 6 at 3:25pm (QLD time) this year’s edition of the $150,000 Listed Weetwood Handicap (1200m) is dedicated to former female hoop Kristy Banks who suffered a career ending spinal injury after a race fall last December.
The capacity 14-starter plus five emergency Weetwood Handicap field for Thursday features two gallopers from Heathcote’s stables with 59kg topweight Gundy Son and Mondean drawn in barriers eight and 12 respectively.
Heathcote enjoyed great success at this meeting 12 months ago having prepared last year’s Toowoomba Cup winner Humma who went on to win the Group 3 Queensland Chairman’s Handicap (2020m) during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Of Heathcote’s 2012 Weetwood hopes Mondean, formerly prepared by Darryl Hansen, is slightly more fancied in the bookmaker.com.au markets, the Monashee Mountain five-year-old paying $15 to upset hot $2.60 favourite The Ringmaster.
A winner of seven of their 27 career starts to date Mondean was last seen running a credible third behind Border Rebel in a 1000-metre sprint at Eagle Farm on March 17, apprentice hoop Timothy Bell retaining the ride for Thursday’s black type.
“His form shows he hasn’t started on the cushion but he would have done a lot of his work on it and his last-start third was a good performance,” Heathcote said of Mondean.
“Timmy Bell rode him last start and he got off and said he’d love to ride him in the Weetwood if I didn’t have a rider and I am very pleased to have him on.”
Falvelon six-year-old Gundy Son meanwhile pays $17 in the Weetwood Handicap odds, Damian Browne engaged for the ride.
Gundy Son needs to improve leaps and bounds on their disappointing first-up 10th behind winner Tierqualo when beating home just one other runner in the Carbine Club Gold Coast Stakes (1200m) first-up.
Heathcote is willing to forgive Gundy Son’s run at the Gold Coast which he said was hampered by an unsuitably wet track.
“The track was downgraded from a dead five to a heavy ten and I was not at all disappointed with his run considering he was first-up,” Heathcote said.
“Gundy Son is a very good horse on his day, his record second-up is good and his owners are from Goondiwindi and they would dearly love to win the race.
“He’ll get back a bit off barrier eight but he will be hitting the line strongly and I expect him to be right in the finish.”
While neither horse has been to the track before, Heathcote remains confident he has a Weetwood Handicap winner among his ranks.
“I know a lot of trainers say horses have to have raced at Toowoomba to be able to win there but I don’t subscribe to that theory,” Heathcote said.
“The Weetwood is one of Queensland’s most-loved races and these horses are both winning chances despite their lack of experience on the cushion surface.”
Of the better fancied Weetwood Handicap hopes are the aforementioned The Ringmaster ($2.60 bookmaker.com.au) coming off back-to-back Doomben wins, Tony Sear’s local six-year-old Haizum ($7 bookmaker.com.au) and the Michael Nolan-trained Miss Imagica ($7.50 bookmaker.com.au).
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