Trainer Rob Heathcote is hoping Our Lukas can spark fresh life into the stable’s winter carnival fortunes when the gelding makes his comeback at Doomben.
Our Lukas will line up for his first start since December with Shane Scriven aboard in Saturday’s Off The Rails Handicap (1350m).
Heathcote has a powerful team heading towards the Brisbane winter carnival but his major hope, Buffering, has suffered a setback which will delay his return.
Last year’s Group Two Roman Consul Stakes winner is battling a hoof injury and will miss his scheduled comeback in the Listed Bribie Handicap (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday week.
“I’m hoping we’ll have some better luck with Our Lukas than what’s happened with Buffering,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering had a stone bruise which got badly infected after he won a barrier trial at Eagle Farm last month.
“He was in a lot of pain at the time and we’ve only just managed to get a shoe back on.
“At one stage I thought his entire winter carnival might be in doubt but he’s come right now.”
Heathcote isn’t confident Our Lukas can make a winning return with his big weight of 60 kilograms but will be happy with a competitive performance from the three-time Cup winner.
Our Lukas has won the past two Listed Ipswich Cups and made it three with his victory in the Listed Seymour Cup in October.
“He’ll run well but he’s never at his best even though he’s won twice first-up,” Heathcote said.
“He’s going straight to 1350 metres first-up and with 60 kilos it’s a decent hurdle to overcome.
“I’m very happy the way he’s coming along and he’s trialled twice.”
Heathcote will give special instructions to Scriven to keep Our Lukas’ mind on the job in the barrier stalls.
“The key to his chance is that he’s an on-pace runner but he can fluff the start so it’s important Shane gets him away,” he said.
Heathcote will give Our Lukas his next start in the Listed Members’ Handicap (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 23 before the Group Two Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on May 7.
“He’s going to find it tough in the handicaps from now on so he’ll be better off in weight-for-ages races,” Heathcote said.
“Shoot Out is going to be the benchmark in the staying races this year so I might have a throw at the stumps and run against him in the Doomben Cup.”
The Group One Doomben Cup (2020m) will be run on May 21.