Brisbane’s premier trainer Robert Heathcote is preparing to saddle up a double pronged attack in the WJ Healy Stakes 2012 at Eagle Farm on the weekend with single figure fancies Excellantes and Griffon.
It is shaping up as a thrilling edition of the $175,000 Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes (1200m) on Tattersall’s Tiara Day this Saturday, a quality field of 12 sprinters set to face off in the meeting’s closer.
Early WJ Healy Stakes betting markets at bookies around the country have two horses battling for favouritism with Chris Waller’s last start Rosehill winner Tromso and Heathcote’s Falvelon four-year-old Excellants paying $4.
A winner of seven of their 20 career starts to date Excellantes posted back-to-back victories at Doomben in May before their last start fifth when beaten two and a half lengths by their stablemate Griffon in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1000m) at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Handicap Day.
In the Lightning Handicap Flying Spur six-year-old Griffon, formerly prepared in Sydney by the maestro Bart Cummings, went out as a $25 chance before putting one and a half lengths on runner-up Royal Bender in the sprint showdown.
Punters won’t get the grey for such a generous price in the WJ Healy Stakes odds however, Griffon paying $6 to score their second on the trot.
Of his duo it is Griffon that Heathcote is giving a glowing review to, the horse having come through their last start victory in excellent order ready for improvement second-up this campaign.
“He was really impressive the other day and he’s gone on from it since,” Heathcote said.
“He’s a big, strong animal. Bart Cummings had him before me and there were always big raps on him.
“When he first arrived here I never really thought I had him right but now he’s ready to go.”
That doesn’t mean to say that Heathcote doesn’t rate Excellantes as well.
The masterful horseman said Excellantes worked hard in the Lightning from barrier 11 (of 14) and stepping back up to the 1200-metres from barrier eight on Saturday would work in their favour.
“He worked across from a wide gate and was still there at the finish,” he said.
“Damien (Browne) jumped off and said he should have finished a lot closer.
“Excellantes will be a lot better suited back up to the 1200 metres. It was always a big ask for him to come back to the 1000 metres last start.”
So who to tip?
Lock them into the WJ Healy Stakes quinella says Heathcote.
“I’d say they’re my best two chances on Saturday but only one of them can win,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we got the quinella.”
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