Jockey Damian Browne is set to maintain his outstanding strike rate on Excellantes in a bid to ignite their winter carnival campaigns.
Excellantes will back up from a good second at Doomben last week in the Listed Winning Edge Hinkler Quality (1200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Hinkler was previously run as the Bribie Handicap and marked the official start of the Brisbane winter carnival.
It has always attracted a quality field of sprinters and this year is no different with Excellantes lining up against most of the best open-class horses in Brisbane.
Browne is best known as the rider of Heathcote’s star Buffering but he has an excellent record on Excellantes.
He has ridden Excellantes nine times for six wins and a second with the two unplaced runs being in Listed races.
Brad Stewart and Jeff McDonald have ridden Excellantes in his other two wins.
Trainer Rob Heathcote has made Excellantes a special case this winter and has nursed the horse through some tough times in search of carnival wins in the lower-tier black-type races.
“He was one of the horses to get a virus in our stable last year and then we have hit some wet tracks but he raced well last Saturday and looks back on course,” Heathcote said.
Apprentice Aidan Holt rode Excellantes last week and reported the gelding was looking for 1200m.
Heathcote said Holt had ridden Excellantes well but Browne had a special affinity with the horse and the Hinkler was a non-claiming race.
“His style of riding obviously suits Excellantes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the barrier draw has been cruel to two other main chances on Saturday with Love Rocks getting marble 12 and Vintage Moss alley 11.
Trainer Steve Tregea scratched Love Rocks from Doomben last week when he also drew barrier 12 but the gelding is likely to run Saturday.