Rob Heathcote’s up-and-coming three-year-old emerged as a possible Stradbroke Handicap 2014 contender this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival with their good Eagle Farmwin on the weekend.
The Mossman gelding beat a good field of fellow three-year-olds, thanks in part to a gun ride from Damian Browne, as an $8 chance in the $125,000 Group 3 APHS Gunsynd Classic (1600m) on Saturday.
It gave them four on the trot but was their first Group start, and win.
A bargain buy from the 2012 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale for just $26,000, Hopfgarten is owned by many of the same connections of boom Group 1 champion Buffering who is also out of in-form sire Mossman.
Hopfgarten has now amassed over $150,000 for those owners including Vicky Heathcote, Chris Lord, Damien Merola and Bruce Harry.
Browne originally had the galloper settled back off the pace from their wide barrier 14 draw in the Gunsynd Classic allowing the Trevor Bailey-trained Avalanches ($11) to lead the way.
Avalanches looked likely of going all-the-way too before Hopfgarten and Browne made a late charge eventually running them down to score by one and quarter lengths, an effort that impressed the winning hoop.
“He’s come on in leaps and bounds over the past six weeks and I wasn’t surprised he measured up,” Browne told The Sunday Mail.
“He’s a horse that can win a good race later on.”
Race favourite Rudy ($3.10) was then far from disgraced when finishing a very close third just a nose further back after failing to hit stride thanks to the muddling tempo according to jockey Tegan Harrison.
There’s no doubt Hopfgarten will now make a nice winter type, but exactly how far they will go is still not known.
Heathcote at this stage is eyeing a grand final run in the $350,000 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) back at Eagle Farm, on Queensland Oaks Day, May 31.
The master horseman however is hoping they show better early form and earn a shot at a bigger race like the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) the following Saturday.
For all the latest on the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival stay tuned to Races.com.au.
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2014 Gunsynd Classic Results
Eagle Farm Race 6 – 26/04/2014
|1||4||HOPFGARTEN||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||–||14||57kg||$8|
|2||8||AVALANCHES||Trevor Bailey||Scott Galloway||1.3L||5||57kg||$11|
|3||1||RUDY||Helen Page||Ms Tegan Harrison (a)||1.4L||4||57kg||$3.10F|
|4||7||OLYMPIC ANTHEM (NZ)||Robert Heathcote||Michael Cahill||3.2L||2||57kg||$11|
|5||5||DARCI MAGIC (NZ)||Bede Murray||Jason Taylor||4L||11||57kg||$6|
|6||3||BODEGA NEGRA||Bruce W Hill||Kelvin Wharton||4.1L||1||57kg||$11|
|7||9||SAGUARO (NZ)||Peter G Moody||Jim Byrne||5.1L||6||57kg||$21|
|8||14||CRUZ BY (NZ)||Brian Smith||Larry Cassidy||5.9L||13||55kg||$51|
|9||12||ALWAYS A GIBBERER||John P Thompson||Ric McMahon||7.2L||3||57kg||$101|
|10||6||CASARATI||Bruce W Hill||Chris Munce||8.2L||7||57kg||$71|
|11||10||LUCKY LUCRE||Matthew Dunn||Glen Colless||9.5L||9||57kg||$71|
|12||13||SHIRAZ ATTACK||Gillian Heinrich||Timothy Bell||11.5L||10||55kg||$6|
|13||2||ARCHITECT||David J Lawlor||Andrew Spinks||11.7L||8||57kg||$26|
|14||11||OOSTHUIZEN||Kelly Schweida||Eddie Wilkinson||14L||12||57kg||$101|