The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
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).
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