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Robert Heathcote is annoyed with the hefty handicaps allocated to local Queensland gallopers during the Winter Carnival including Hopfgarten who jumps top-weight in the Spear Chief Handicap 2016 on Saturday.
Heathcote expressed to Racenet concerns about the Racing Queensland handicapping system that seemingly puts locally-trained horses at a disadvantage behind the interstate raiders chasing the lucrative prize money on offer at the Sunshine State during the cooler months.
“When the southern trainers come here the top weight they seem to get is 59kg but when it is one of ours they get 60.5 (kg) which means with a vest they are carrying 61.5kg,” Heathcote said.
“It means they get into races very well against our horses.”
He was quick to point out the 60.5kg top weight his in-form Mossman five-year-old Hopfgarten is charged with carrying in this weekend’s $100,000 Listed Spear Chief Handicap (1500m) on Tattersall’s Tiara Day.
The gelding is a five-time winner from a dozen starts at the Eagle Farm track where he ran a fortnight back running away for a 2.5 length victory over Pajaro in the Listed The Wayne Wilson Mile (1600m).
Hopfgarten overcame barrier 16 of 16 and 58.5kg to take out the Listed feature and pocketed a $64,000 top prize to take his career earnings up to $598,700.
He rises notable in the weights then shooting for back-to-back victories on Saturday, Damian Browne retaining the ride from barrier seven of eight in the Spear Chief.
“They said to me Hopfgarten had won a stakes race at his last start, but it was worth $60,000,” Heathcote said.
“We really have to head to Sydney and Melbourne with the better horses where we get a better go at the weights, prizemoney and race schedules.”
While Heathcote has his concerns about how the favourite will handle the kilos, the bookmakers are taking no chances with Hopfgarten who dominates Spear Chief Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.60 for the win.
He is followed in the latest Spear Chief Handicap odds by the Chris Waller-trained Amovatio ($3.60) coming off a third in The Wayne Wilson when making ground late and his stablemate Tales Of Grimm ($6.50) who carry 60kg and 55.5kg respectively.
Heathcote also saddles-up Bewhatyouwannabe in the Spear Chief from gate six with Michael Cahill to ride the $11 chance on the 54kg minimum.
Cahill has been aboard the Fastnet Rock six-year-old for his eight latest runs including a Black-Type win at the Sunshine Coast over the mile on April 23.
His latest run was a failed 16th of 17 runners behind his better performed stablemate in The Wayne Wilson a fortnight ago as a 41/1 shot.
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