Four-year-old galloper Hopfgarten will be one to beat in the Listed Recognition Stakes (1630m) at Doomben Racecourse this Saturday after overcoming an injury scare.
The Robert Heathcote-trained gelding enjoyed black-type racing success during the Brisbane Winter Carnival after winning both the Group 3 APHS Gunsynd Classic (1600m) and Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m), both over the same distance as the 2014 Recognition Stakes.
He then won the Padua College Handicap (1350m) first up this campaign, running three-deep without cover, before running a disappointing ninth in the Super Starfish Handicap (1400m) two weeks ago, where he pulled up lame after the race.
“Initially we were a bit disappointed but he had a little muscle problem in his back. We have treated it and he has come up well,” trainer Robert Heathcote told Sky Racing.
“I would be disappointed if he didn’t race much better on Saturday.”
Hopfgarten is on the second line of betting in the Recognition Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, offering $5.50 to win behind favourite Rudy ($2.70).
The Tony McEvoy-trained Mouro accepted for the 2014 Recognition Stakes but after drawing wide in barrier 13 has opted to run in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens instead, where he will jump from barrier three. Still, his appearance on the Brisbane race’s final field gave several of the runners an advantage.
Mouro was allocated the top weight of 61kg, compressing the weights of well-performing Brisbane horses like Hopfgarten, who will carry just 56kg. This is his lowest allocated weight in months and would have surely been higher without Mouro in contention. The gelding will jump from barrier 10 with Damian Browne in the saddle.
“Having Mouro accept has certainly helped Hopfgarten and few others with the weights,” Heathcote said.
Saturday’s run will also determine whether Heathcote decides to take Hopfgarten down to Sydney for the first time next month for the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m).
The 2014 Recognition Stakes will be the race to watch at Doomben this Saturday, make sure you open your online betting account at Ladbrokes.com.au and place your bets today.