The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Leading Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote may have missed the big one at Doomben on Saturday due to the elite interstate raiders, but a winning BTC Cup Day double has him confident of scoring Group 1 glory later during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Heathcote’s emerging three-year-old Buffering ran a gallant third behind the undefeated queen Black Caviar and boom sprinter Hay List in last Saturday’s Group 1 BTC Cup (1400m), moments after the Eagle Farm-based horseman enjoyed back-to-back black-type wins with Humma and Fillydelphia.
The trainer’s first winner on BTC Cup Day came in race five when his rising eight-year-old and $21 outsider Humma held on in a thrilling finish to take out the $115,000 Group 3 QLD Chairman’s Handicap (2020m) by a nose over the Michael Moroney-trained Viking Hero ($11).
In a blanket finish there was just a length separating the first six finishers in the Chairman’s, a brave Count Encosta ($18) another nose back from Viking Hero for third and Femina Fashion ($11) rounding out the top four.
“I wasn’t sure about the finish,” Heathcote said on Saturday.
“To be honest I was watching Tabulate shoot up along the rails.”
Tabulate finished just outside the top four when three-quarters of a length from their winning stablemate in fifth.
The surprise success from Iglesia gelding Humma, winner of the Toowoomba Cup in March, was the 10th victory from 61 starts for the veteran who is now on way the $300,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11, Stradbroke Handicap Day.
“This win is a little unexpected but it was a lovely ride from Larry Cassidy,” Heathcote said.
“He had to show us he could step up today (Saturday) to go on further in the carnival and he has.
“He’s won a Listed race in the Toowoomba Cup and now a Group Three.
“I’m over the moon and we’ll look toward the Brisbane Cup next with him.”
In the next race Heathcote was back in the winner’s stall at Doomben again thanks to an impressive performance from progressive filly Fillydelphia who coasted to a tidy two and three quarter length win in the $125,000 Group 3 Mittys Rough Habit Plate (2020m).
A three-year-old daughter of Bianconi, Fillydelphia went out as a $9.50 chance on Saturday but was far too strong for runner-up Hour Of Peril ($8) or the $3.50 favourite Chateau Fort who was a fast finishing third, thanks to a beautiful ride from ace hoop Luke Nolen.
The win gave Nolen a Group race double for Racefest 2011 as he also saluted on the champion of the day, Black Caviar.
Fillydelphia’s main winter aim is the $400,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) on June 4 at Eagle Farm.
After Saturday’s win, her fifth from 14 career starts to date, Fillydelphia now sits as the $9 third favourite in the Queensland Oaks odds that are lead by Peter Snowden’s last-start Gold Coast Bracelet winner Divorces at $7.
It was a wonderful and authoritative return to form for Fillydelphia who came into the Rough Habit on the back of a disappointing 12th place in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 30.
Heathcote ordered the blinkers off and a new jockey in the mount that proved a winning move.
“I’ve been saying to everyone that she was a potential Oaks filly and she has proved that she has got what it takes,” Heathcote said after the win.
“She’ll go into the Oaks now and be very hard to beat.”
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