Trainer Robert Heathcote has run second … not once but twice … in his biggest hometown feature, the Stradbroke Handicap, and he will have another bite at the cherry when Emerald Kingdom, who qualified for the race with a golden, ballot free ticket by winning the BRC Sprint last time out, jumps into action when the barriers gates spring open in the Stradbroke on Saturday.
‘Thanks for that reminder,” said Heathcote when speaking on Sky at the big race barrier draw. “I still have nightmares over Linton flashing up the rail to beat Buffering back in 2013. (Buffering also finished second, to Mid Summer Music the year before).
“Yeah, we have had a crack at it before and I’m under no illusions how hard a race it is to win.
“My lad is going to find it tough against some of these horses on Saturday. He is probably only on the fifth or sixth line of betting … and rightly so … but he is honest and he is tough. I loved his work (on Tuesday) and they’ll know he is there.
‘He went three-quarter 600m in that work. It was nice work. Justin Anderson, his regular trackwork rider did the job. If I had my race jockey Robbie Fradd up here to ride him in trackwork he would have broken a track record … such is Robbie’s prowess as a track-rider,” said Heathcote, tongue in cheek.
‘Justin kept a nice hold on him. He went well. He is ready.
“After the Victory Stakes, when things kinda went a little bit pair-shaped in his first-up run, I was wondering where I was going to go with him. Of course, we ultimately went to the BRC Sprint where he was strong.
“I think the key to Emerald Kingdom is he is a big, strong, bold front-running style of horse and we have got the draw I wanted. I wanted to draw between eight and twelve and my wife went up and drew barrier ten for us … which I am very happy about.
“We don’t want to be on the inside. We want to be out a little bit so Robbie can control the speed to some extent.
“Bring it on.”