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Robert Heathcote turns his attention to Hopfgarten at Randwick

For the past six years, Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote has spent this week in Melbourne preparing Buffering for the Manikato Stakes.

But with the champion sprinter now retired, Heathcote is free on Friday night and will turn his attention to Hopfgarten who runs at Randwick the following day.

An eight-time Group One winner, Buffering claimed his first win at the top level in his third Manikato in 2013 and was retired after his unplaced run last year.

“God I miss him,” Heathcote said.

Although not in the same class as Buffering, Hopfgarten is a multiple stakes winner and more than handy on his day.

A lack of suitable races in Brisbane has forced Heathcote’s hand and he is bringing Hopfgarten to Randwick for his next start on the way to a lucrative summer bonus.

Hopfgarten is being aimed towards the Villiers Stakes/Bernborough Handicap double which carries an extra $100,000 if a horse can win both.

The Group Two Villiers (1600m) is at Randwick on December 16 and the Listed Bernborough Handicap is two weeks later at Doomben.

Hopfgarten made a winning return over 1200m at Doomben on October 14 and will run in Saturday’s Filante Handicap (1400m).

“There isn’t a 1350 metre race programmed here for another couple of weeks,” Heathcote said.

“So we have to come to Sydney.

“It will be a good trial run for the Villiers. He ran a good race in the Villiers last year when he ran fifth after being caught deep all the way.”

Hopfgarten will carry 60kg with Christian Reith to ride.

“I originally tried to get a claiming apprentice knowing he would get a big weight but there weren’t any available,” Heathcote said.

“But we are happy to get Christian.”

There were 19 entries for the Filante with Takedown topweight with 63kg ahead of Jungle Edge on 62kg and Japonisme and Supply And Demand on 60.5kg.

 
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