Trainer Robert Heathcote was thrilled with the performances produced by consistent runner Hopfgarten during his recent Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign and has revealed he will set the rising five-year-old for a race like the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Hopfgarten returned to racing this year for success over notable competition in the Canadian Club Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on March 28th; progressing to a close second behind Sir Moments in the Listed Tails Stakes (1630m) and third in the Toowoomba Cup (2150m) before arguably producing a career-best effort to date in running on for a brave fifth in the featured Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m).
Heathcote has been pleased with the way the Mossman gelding has taken to his time in the paddock and is confident the conditions of a race like the Group 1 Toorak Handicap, a race he won with Solzhenitsyn in 2012 and 2013, should make for an ideal Spring Carnival target.
“I’m looking at bringing a horse called Hopfgarten down,” Heathcote told Racing Ahead.
“He had a bit of and up and down, mixed Winter Carnival up here.
“We were planning on taking him to the Doomben Cup and he missed a run in the Hollindale which was a crucial lead-up race.
“Pornichet was in the same boat and whilst he was super impressive I thought Hopfgarten still ran respectable races but I now believe he’s solely a miler at best.
“We’ll bring him down and target him for races like the Rupert Clarke and possible the Toorak Handicap.
“If he’s racing well and warrants a start we’ll even look at the Emirates.
“I think Hopfgarten is an improving type of horse and his brave fifth in the Doomben Cup was the race that I then decided a trip to Melbourne in spring is something to consider.”
Hopfgarten has won nine of 28 competitive starts for Heathcote since debuting partway through 2013; finishing in the minors a further six times.
Having returned to racing in typically strong form through summer, Hopfgarten won the Padua College Handicap (1350m) first-up on November 1st; returning to the paddock after winning the Listed Ray Nolan Brisbane Handicap (1600m) and finishing fourth in the Listed City Of Toowoomba Quality (1625m).