After his two gallopers Volkhere and Hopfgarten filled the minor placings behind Pornichet in the Toowoomba Cup over the weekend, Brisbane’s Robert Heathcote confirmed the latter would face the French import in a rematch in this Saturday’s 2015 Doomben Cup.
Gai Waterhouse’s long-term Cox Plate hope Pornichet was balloted out of the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) on the Gold Coast two weeks back, but made up for it with a smart win carrying a big weight in the Toowoomba Cup (2150m).
Plans are now to back the Vespone four-year-old up at Doomben Racecourse on Saturday in the $650,000 Group 1 The Bundaberg Rum Doomben Cup (2000m).
After easily carrying 60.5kg to victory at Toowoomba, Pornichet is the clear $4.80 favourite in the early Doomben Cup odds for this weekend at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Also coming out of the Toowoomba Cup and targeting a seven-day turnaround into the Doomben Cup is Heathcote’s third-past-the-post Hopfgarten.
The Mossman four-year-old came off a second behind fellow Doomben Cup hope Sir Moments in the Listed Tails Stakes (1630m) at Doomben on April 11, brave in defeat in the Toowoomba Cup when carrying 58.5kg to run one and a half lengths away third.
“I think I probably will start Hopfgarten as he was only third-up and he ran on well,” Heathcote said.
“I don’t think he will be out of the place in the Doomben Cup.”
Heathcote’s Toowoomba Cup runner-up Volkhere will be saved for a run in the Caloundra Cup on May 16, but Hopfgarten will go into the Doomben Cup field if he pulls up well from the Toowoomba clash.
“Pornichet is obviously a genuine Group-class horse and I think Volkhere can win the Caloundra Cup in a couple of weeks, while Hopfgarten will go to the Doombne Cup on that run if he recovers well,” Heathcote said trackside on Saturday.
Volkhere did well to hang on for second after setting the pace on Saturday, and Heathcote is confident the 2400m of the Caloundra Cup won’t be too much for him to handle despite his longest win to date being over 2200m.
“I have been wanting to try Volkhere as a genuine staying horse for some time now,” he said.
“He will give them something to think about over 2400 metres.
“He can show early dash and then grind away. But his biggest asset is his heart.”
Volkhere could even be tested over the two miles later during the carnival, Heathcote waiting to see how he handles the mile and a half before confirming a Queensland Cup run over 3200m.
“There won’t be any Pornichets in the Caloundra Cup. I might even look at a race like the Queensland Cup over 3200 metres for Volkhere if he races well into the carnival,” Heathcote said.
While Heathcote was pleased with Hopfgarten’s efforts over the weekend, the galloper is a genuine outsider in Doomben Cup betting paying $34 as the fourth longest-priced hope through Ladbrokes to give his trainer a maiden win in the classic.
Sydney’s Chris Waller meanwhile has won two recent editions of the Doomben Cup with Metal Bender (2010) and Beaten Up (2013).
He is back with five nominees this winter and the bookmakers rate the chances of veterans I’m Imposing ($8.5) and Foreteller ($9) especially, who come off a Hollindale Stakes third and fourth place run respectively.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest Doomben Cup field and betting updates, and head to Ladbrokes.com.au for the best odds on the classic!