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A win by Punta Norte at his city debut could partly compensate trainer Rob Heathcote for his disappointment at the scrapping of Saturday’s open staying race at Doomben.

Heathcote had Volkhere and Coworth Park entered for the race but Racing Queensland removed it from the program because of insufficient nominations.

“Why, I don’t know. They were six handy stayers nominated,” Heathcote said.

“They have split a 1000m race and ended up with nine in each. Really, I would have thought a six-horse staying race with six genuine chances would have been a betting avenue and of more interest.”

However, Heathcote is hoping Punta Norte can run up to his provincial form in the Weareco Handicap (1640m).

Punta Norte has won his two starts since a spell, both at the Sunshine Coast.

“He isn’t a top horse yet but both his provincial wins have been very impressive. He has to carry 57.5kg in a city-standard race which will be a test,” Heathcote said.

“But I have made no secret of the fact I think he is one of the most promising horses in my stable.”

Heathcote believes Hopfgarten will improve on whatever he does first-up in Saturday’s Padua College Handicap (1350m).

“I am looking at the 1600m Listed races around Christmas for him. We will probably take him to Toowoomba for the Bernborough Handicap,” he said.

Hopfgarten showed his class with wins in the Sunshine Coast Guineas and Gunsynd Classic during the winter.

In good news for the Heathcote stable star sprinter Buffering is making good progress after copping a battering in the Manikato Stakes a week ago.

Heathcote hopes to work Buffering on Saturday and have him ready for the Darley Classic at Flemington seven days later.

 
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