A change of scenery has rejuvenated former class Sydney sprinter Riva De Lago who is striving to break a 15-month absence from the winner’s circle in the Lough Neagh Stakes.
Riva De Lago was originally trained by Con Karakatsanis and was considered good enough to visit Brisbane for the 2012 winter carnival when he was unplaced in the QTC Cup.
The gelding was later transferred to Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller and won the 2013 Group Two Theo Marks Quality.
However, his form tapered off and in nine subsequent runs for Waller, Riva De Lago could manage only one minor placing.
He was sent to Brisbane trainer Rob Heathcote for a summer carnival campaign and got off to a positive start when he ran a closing fifth in the George Moore Stakes (1200m).
Heathcote said Riva De Lago had made a mockery of his $41 starting price in the George Moore and he was looking forward to his return to Doomben on Saturday.
“Riva De Lago was one of a couple who didn’t have a lot of luck in the race,” Heathcote said.
“I think he will be better suited at the 1350 metres and he gets in well at the weights.
“I have been very pleased with Riva De Lago since he came to me. It would be nice to say you had improved one on Chris but maybe it is just a change of scenery.”
Meanwhile, Heathcote is tossing up whether to start Saluter in Saturday’s XXXX Gold Open (1200m) after he drew the outside of the field in barrier 11.
The race could be the first test of Heathcote’s decision to geld the 2013 Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner.
Heathcote urged the owners to cut Saluter after he ran four seconds in a row last campaign.
“I laugh when people bag Saluter for his four seconds,” he said.
“He was already a good horse but I think he can be a really good horse when gelded.
“But we will have to have a good think about whether to start him fresh from that alley.”
Heathcote confirmed his other XXXX Gold acceptor Excellantes was a definite starter from barrier three.