Brisbane trainer Rob Heathcote was rewarded for his decision to keep Hopfgarten at the same distance in Saturday’s Sunshine Coast Guineas 2014 with the in-form three-year-old taking out the day’s feature.
After a fast finishing effort from Bruce Hill’s Husson filly Miss Husson ($15), Mossman gelding Hopfgarten ($4.80) was able to hold her off and win this year’s $125,000 Listed XXXX Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) by half a length.
In a distant third three lengths off the winner was then first emergency Fast Arrow ($15), who got into the race after Chris Waller withdrew his acceptor Mamwaazel, just ahead of Hill’s other runner Bodega Negra ($21).
A $26,000 bargain buy from the 2012 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale, Hopfgarten has now won a tidy $236,500 in prize money.
They’ve been on fire this campaign especially winning five of their past seven starts.
Four of those were on the trot in Brisbane during March and April culminating with the Group 3 Gunysnd Classic (1600m) at their first look at the mile.
After their succession of victories Heathcote played with the idea of continuing to step them up in distance for a shot at some longer Queensland Winter Racing Carnival features.
Instead he dropped them back down to 1350m for the Group 3 Fred Best Classic where they got rolled and beat home just two runners when 14th to Havana.
Heathcote though saw promise again when they ran fourth next start to Sir Moments in the Listed Daybreak Lover (1600m) before their Sunshine Coast Guineas feature win.
“He became a bit of a challenge after he won those four races in a row and I wasn’t sure what to do,” Heathcote said.
“I could have kept going up in distance but I decided to come back and when he got his pants pulled down in the Fred Best I Though ‘what have I done here’.
“But winning this race vindicates that decision.”
Winning hoop Damian Browne has now, over the years, won all three of the Caloundra Cup Day feature races.
Hopfgarten’s Sunshine Coast Guineas victory joined Browne’s Glasshouse Handicap win on Woorim (2011) and Zennista’s Caloundra Cup win last winter.
“It’s nice to have won all three,” Browne told The Courier Mail.
“It’s been a good day to me.”
Browne let Hopfgarten settle where he was comfortable before a change of pace allowed them to move into the mix and begin their run in earnest over the final 200m.
“I elected just to ride him where he was comfortable because he’s a very versatile horse,” Browne said.
“They rolled along the first 300m, but then they slowed up, so from the 1000m point I started creeping into it.
“He travelled really well and the only thing I was worried about was getting to the front too soon.”
Race favourite on Saturday meanwhile was the David Lawlor-trained Architect ($4) who came off a 1200m win at Eagle Farm the previous weekend.
The Bel Esprit gelding however was forced to the back of the field early in the Guineas and failed to make up the ground crossing over seven lengths away 14th struggling to run out the mile.
Heathcote is now considering whether to spell Hopfgarten ahead of a possible spring return, or continue their campaign with a run in something like the Listed Tattersall’s Mile (1600m) at Eagle Farm on July 12.
The full Sunshine Coast Guineas 2014 results are listed below.
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2014 Sunshine Coast Guineas Results & Finishing Order
Sunshine Coast Race 5 – 28/06/2014
|1||2||HOPFGARTEN||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||–||15||57kg||$6|
|2||15||MISS HUSSON||Bruce W Hill||Larry Cassidy||0.5L||12||55kg||$15|
|3||19e||FAST ARROW||Mick Mair||Kelvin Wharton||3L||14||57kg||$15|
|4||4||BODEGA NEGRA||Bruce W Hill||Bobby El-Issa||3.2L||11||57kg||$21|
|5||12||COMACINA||John, Dan & Chris Meagher||Ashley Butler||3.4L||1||57kg||$16|
|6||10||SANTOYA CAT||Bryan Guy||Ryan Wiggins||3.6L||4||57kg||$21|
|7||6||PALMERA LAD||Roslyn Pratt||Anthony Allen (a)||4.9L||10||57kg||$4.80|
|8||3||HOT SAGA||Gary Duncan||Eddie Wilkinson||5L||7||57kg||$41|
|9||16||PERFORMIA||Craig Smith||Chris Whiteley||5.2L||5||55kg||$16|
|10||5||ANYMORE||Lacey Morrison||Vinnie Colgan||6L||17||57kg||$21|
|11||11||SMART HUSS||John, Dan & Chris Meagher||Ric McMahon||6.8L||6||57kg||$15|
|12||14||QUEST FOR PEACE||Toby Edmonds||Jason Taylor||7L||9||55kg||$31|
|13||8||CASINO BENJO||John Pointon||Andrew Spinks||7.1L||3||57kg||$51|
|14||1||ARCHITECT||David J Lawlor||Timothy Bell||7.2L||16||57kg||$4F|
|15||17||CORUBA QUEEN||Len Treloar||Geoffrey Goold (a)||7.3L||8||55kg||$21|
|16||7||ELITE ECHELON||Ray McCall||Chris Munce||8.3L||2||57kg||$26|
|17||18||TIRARRI||Liam Birchley||Michael Hellyer||14.3L||13||55kg||$101|
|18||20e||ROCK OF DIAMONDS||Kent Fleming||Glen Colless||22.8L||18||55kg||$51|
|–||21e||ABADDON (NZ)||Shaune Ritchie||–||–||0||–||–|
|–||9||L’ENTRECOTE||Kelly Schweida||Jim Byrne||–||0||–||–|
|–||13||MAMWAAZEL||Chris Waller||Chris Munce||–||0||–||–|