A WIDE gate hasn’t dampened reigning premier Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote’s confidence in sturdy Mossman son Hopfgarten’s chances of taking out this weekend’s $125,000 XXXX Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m).
The 3YO drew barrier 16 out of 21 and despite coming in a few by post-time, he’ll still be way out wide when the big field is sent on their way.
And while Heathcote says the wide gate is hardly ideal for this great-great grandson of Leilani, his prospects of adding a sixth win to his tally remain bright.
“Whenever you draw wide you know it has made it that much harder but if there is one track that perhaps you can draw wide it is Caloundra (the Sunshine Coast) because it’s purpose-built trcak with good run-ins for all the horses,” Heathcote commented.
“And a bigger plus is (jockey) Damian Browne who knows Caloundra better than any rider up there and has certainly got the best strike-rate and he knows this horses this very well.
“Hopfgarten is the type of horse who has won coming from last on a wet track but he’s also led and won when he won his group race, the Gunsynd Stakes afew runs back so he’s a versatile horse and hopefully Damian will ride the horse accordingly to how the race pans out.”
Heathcote is no stranger to big race success with the Mossman breed having guided the iron horse Buffering to three Group 1 wins.
And while most would agree that Buffering is most accurate from 1200m to 1400m, Hopfgarten is able to stretch hismelf to a mile.
“I think (the mile) is his best distance,” Heathcote said. “He won the Gunsynd and then I had to freshen him and drop him back to 1350m (in the Daybreak Lover) and that was the day when if you weren’t in the first few you had no chance and he subsquebtly ran a nice fourth behind Sir Moments which is good form.
“He is ready for this mile on (a track) that is going to have a bit of give in the ground and being a Mossman, I think he’s best suited to that.”
“It looks a race that if this horse is anywhere near his best than he s going to be very competative I have no doubt about that.
“I am also mindful that if there is a word of caution for anyone, is that the horse has been up a while but they are only (aged) three once in their life so we are going to continue on and race him through until the end of the season if we can,” Heathcote said.