While many trainers have expressed disappointment with the Eagle Farm track after course proper gallops, Robert Heathcote’s confidence in Hopfgarten has been boosted after his work-out.
The gelding lines up in Saturday’s Group Two Victory Stakes (1200m) with his work-out on Tuesday pleasing Heathcote.
Hopfgarten was one of 16 horses who worked on the course proper on Tuesday and was one of the few to handle the controversial surface well.
“Everyone agreed he was probably the best worker on the track. He handled it perfectly,” Heathcote said.
Heathcote has won the Victory Stakes twice in 2011 and 2013 with his champion sprinter Buffering who also won a version of the race 2012.
“The Saturday meeting was washed out and they put on the Victory Stakes on the Wednesday with half the prize money and renamed it the Coca Cola,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering won that race by seven lengths with Jim Byrne riding him.”
Like Buffering, Hopfgarten is by noted wet-track sire Mossman with the surface in the soft range on Friday.
The field has been reduced to six following James Cummings’ decision to run Good Standing in the Hawkesbury Guineas.
Heathcote’s wife Vicki and his friend Bruce Harry part-own Hopfgarten and are also in the ownership of Buffering.
“Hopfgarten is no Buffering but they are similar. Hopfgarten deserves another stakes win,” Heathcote said.
The gelding has won five times in stakes company but the highest level was in the Group Three Sunshine Coast Guineas.
Hopfgarten won a Deagon barrier trial last week with Damian Browne aboard but the jockey will ride Miss Cover Girl in the Victory Stakes.
Ron Stewart, who returned to riding in December after a 12-month break, takes over on Saturday.
Last year’s Doomben 10,000 winner Music Magnate was the Luxbet’s $2.25 favourite on Friday ahead of the Gary Moore-trained Takedown at $3.20, Tumbler $4.60 and Hopfgarten $7.
The Barry Lockwood-trained Tumbler, the winner of six of her seven starts, has been well-supported for her first test at stakes level.