Robert Heathcote can train his 80th stakes winner on Saturday and it would be apt if it was in the Listed Brisbane Handicap.
Heathcote will have three runners in the Brisbane Handicap field – Zafonic Dancer, Kubis and Cool Chap – in the $125,000, race over 1600m at Doomben.
In his 21st year as a trainer, Heathcote is second only to the late Bruce McLachlan in terms of black-type winners for Queensland trainers.
He is best remembered for his champion Buffering, who won seven Group One races, and he has won three other Group Ones.
But he has had a steady stream on black-type winners dating to Chenar’s victory in the 2000 Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doomben.
The Brisbane Handicap was once the most prestigious 1600m race in Queensland but in recent years it was switched from Eagle Farm to Doomben and has been overshadowed by the Bernborough Handicap.
Heathcote has won the race four times, with General Minolta (2003), Our Lukas (2007), Fillydelphia (2011) and Hopfgarten (2014).
General Minolta’s win was one that helped put Heathcote on the map as a Stakes trainer.
Cool Chap (fifth) and Zafonic Dancer (sixth) finished together at their last starts in the Mooloolaba Cup at the Sunshine Coast two weeks ago.
Kubis has been freshened after finishing second to Alward at Doomben over 2020m a month ago.
Alward has since franked the form by winning in Sydney last Saturday.
Heathcote said Kubis had shown he was versatile, having won at 1600m when on the fresh side earlier this season.
“Cool Chap is overdue for a win and he was probably in the worse part of the track last time,” Heathcote said.
“He is third up for this campaign and he was second in a stakes race over the Doomben 1600m in the winter carnival.”
Heathcote said Zafonic Dancer had shown that 1600m was his best distance.
“He has won five times at 1600m and three of those have been at Doomben. He is still down on the minimum weight so he gets his chance.”
It will be a busy Saturday for Heathcote with 10 runners, including mare Stella Victoria in the Listed Just Now Stakes.
Stella Victoria has been well beaten at her two most recent starts but drops back to a race against her own sex on Saturday.