Brisbane’s big name trainer Robert Heathcote is confident his galloper Saluter is ready to score a Black-Type win this weekend in the WJ Healy Stakes 2016 after he saved the six-year-old for Tiara Day.
Heathcote opted not to run the Commands six-year-old at Ipswich last Saturday in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m), instead waiting a week to bring him to Eagle Farm Racecourse for a shot at the $175,000 Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m).
A winner of seven of his 38 career starts to date, Saluter was last seen racing at the Sunshine Coast on May 15 when he won a 1000m handicap by 1.5 lengths carting 60kg to victory and has been recovering from a stone bruise over the past few weeks.
“I have had one of those winters with horses getting hoof issues and stone bruises. But I am not the only one who has had similar problems,” Heathcote told Racenet.
“We almost lost my old stayer Volkhere with hoof problems. Every time one abscess would break out he would get another one. Thankfully he is finally over it and has gone to the paddock.”
Best known for his 2013 Magic Millions Guineas win at the Gold Coast as a three-year-old, stablemate Saluter surprisingly is yet to win in stakes’ company.
Heathcote hopes that can change on the weekend when the final Queensland Winter Racing Carnival Group 1 meeting takes place.
The WJ Healy will be his horse’s 13th run at the Eagle Farm track, but Saluter hasn’t run on the recently renovated course proper.
His last run at the Farm was back in August last year when runner-up to Phelan Ready over 1400m.
Aiding his chances of a breakthrough Group win is the drop back five kilos to 55kg under Saturday’s quality handicap conditions.
Saluter will jump from barrier eight in the 12-starter field that was reduced by one after the early scratching of the Robert Smerdon-trained Odyssey Moon.
Brad Stewart is booked for the ride replacing Jim Byrne in the saddle; Byrne instead engaged to ride Tony Gollan’s Jet Spur mare Tina Melina from barrier five in the same sprint showdown.
Tina Melina comes off a fourth to one of the weekend’s Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara hopes Palazzo Pubblico in the Listed Bright Shadow Handicap (1200m) at Doomben on May 21.
She pays $7 in the latest WJ Healy Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au that are led by the rails-drawn John O’Shea-trained Lonhro colt Mogador ($3.80).
Saluter meanwhile pays $11 in the WJ Healy betting markets, a nice price according to Heathcote.
“It isn’t the strongest Healy Stakes and I would expect him to race well fresh,” he said.
Other notable WJ Healy runners this season include the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained top-weight That’s A Good Idea (59.5kg) who carried 62kg for a last start Randwick win and Kelso Wood’s local hope Into The Red ($6.50) who has been crying out for a return to the roomer Eagle Farm track.
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