Trainer Robert Heathcote has experienced notable success in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) with Solzhenitsyn through recent seasons, and is confident he will saddle another leading contender in Hopfgarten in Saturday’s 2015 edition of the race at Caulfield.
Hopfgarten has been a strong and consistent performer for Heathcote through 29 career starts so far; posting an impressive nine wins and six minors since first appearing on course during the autumn of 2013.
Returning this year for success over a talented field of Canadian Club Handicap (1350m) in late March, Hopfgarten continued to impress when second in the Listed Tails Stakes (1600m) and third in the Toowoomba Cup (2150m) before running on for a pleasing fifth in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) most notably.
Hopfgarten made his Melbourne racing debut in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago, and while finishing 12th the Mossman gelding posted some of the race’s fastest sectionals and absolutely savaged the line.
Stepping back up to his pet distance of 1600m and allocated a very manageable 54kgs, Heathcote is confident Hopfgarten is up to the class of the 2015 Toorak Handicap and is excited by the prospects of Saturday’s Caulfield card.
“It’s fair to say it was the best 12th I’ve had in my career,” Heathcote told AAP of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
“There’s no doubting that second-up over a mile is a challenge but he’s got a good second-up record and you can’t but like his first-up run at Caulfield even though he was unlucky.
“You never know with a horse like Hopfgarten whether or not he is a Group One horse but I’ve always had a nice opinion of him and he’s still a progressive horse.
“And that run in the Rupert Clarke did show me that he’s more than capable of being competitive.
“I think to say he’s as good as Solzhenitsyn at this stage is a bit of a big ask, but who knows. He’s still a progressive horse and drawing a good barrier will be essential.”
The 2015 Toorak Handicap final field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
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