Rob Heathcote sweats on inside Villiers gate for Hopfgarten

Emma Ljung (l) rides Hopfgarten to win race 8, the Bartons Open.
Hopfgarten’s Villiers Stakes barrier draw will be crucial, says trainer Robert Heathcote.

Eagle Farm trainer Rob Heathcote admits he would trade an extra 2kg for a good barrier for Hopfgarten in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m).

Hopfgarten has been given 57kg in the $250,000 race in which he ran fifth last year.

An experienced stakes horse, Hopfgarten has had 36 black-type starts for five wins and seven minor placings.

Overall he has won 12 races and $792,550 and Heathcote has not given up hope the gelding will eventually win $1 million.

Now a seven-year-old, Hopfgarten showed he was racing as good as ever when second in the Listed Brisbane Handicap at Doomben last Saturday.

“He just continues to pay for his consistency with big weights. He had 59 kilos in the Brisbane Handicap and gave the winner five kilos,” Heathcote said.

“It is the old story. Horses race well and get big weights and along comes the younger brigade with light weights. But that is racing and no use complaining.”

“But I really think the key to him is a good barrier. I would be glad to trade a 59kg weight for barrier two in the Villiers.

“I really think he should have nearly won last year. He was deep the whole way and actually hit the lead in the straight.”

“He is a seasoned traveller, in form and wet or dry doesn’t matter. He has raced well over further but I think 1600 metres is his go.”

“In a lot of ways he has been overshadowed by my champ Buffering but I would like a stable full of Hopfgartens.”

Sydney-based jockey Christian Reith will ride Hopfgarten at Randwick on Saturday.

“Chris rode my first ever winner on Kaminka way back in 1997 so we do go back a long way,” Heathcote said.

Heathcote is hoping for a two-state feature double with Privlaka in the Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) at Doomben.

Privlaka will be backing up from a strong win at Doomben last Saturday.

“He loves Doomben and the distance. A bit of rain won’t hurt and he bucked his brand off after trackwork Tuesday morning,” Heathcote said.

Hopfgarten has been rated a $15 chance in all-in betting on the Villiers.

The in-form Godolphin galloper Interlocuter is a clear-cut favourite at $3 with Mister Sea Wolf the best-backed runner at $6.

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