Rothfire is set to return to the races on Saturday in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm, and trainer Rob Heathcote has issued a fair warning to his rivals.
The star galloper has had an injury-plagued career, starting just twice since September 2020, but Heathcote is confident that his seven-time winner can get back to his best this time around.
Having had to “pull the pin” on The Everest (1200m) not once, but twice, the trainer is hoping that his patience can be rewarded in the upcoming Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“I’ve not had any doubt how good he is, it’s whether I’ve got him 100 percent sound and healthy,” Heathcote told HorseBetting.
“You’ll see how good my fella is in the Victory Stakes – if he is sound, he wins. It’s rare for me to be so confident, but I know how well he’s going.
“I mean even when I took him down for the second aborted Everest, it poured with rain half an hour before his race so the track was Soft 7/Heavy 8 and Nature Strip and Eduardo beat him 2.6 lengths and that was after a year off. If it hadn’t rained that day, he would’ve shaken those two.
“Now I hope to reap the benefits of that patience by aborting that campaign.”
Despite receiving plenty of comments from “keyboard warriors” on the internet surrounding the horse’s wellbeing, Heathcote says that the horse always comes first, which is why he has made the call the abandon Everest runs in back-to-back years, shying away from starting the pre-post favourite in the $15 million race.
“For all the keyboard warriors out there, believe me, the horse’s health and wellbeing will always get precedence,” the trainer said.
“I don’t care what race it is – I pulled the pin on the doorstep of The Everest twice – the first one I had to, then the second one I never hesitated.
“The really, really good ones don’t lose their ability, but they can lose their soundness, so that’s what you’ve got to do.”
With the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) the four-year-old’s target this carnival, the trainer believes it could be as simple as his horse showing up to the races to win the famous handicap, issuing a stern warning to southern raiders.
“If I get him sound and healthy to the races, he’ll win the Stradbroke,” Heathcote continued.
“They tell me that Kementari is coming and a couple of other horses that ran the other day – bring ’em, I don’t care.”
Rothfire is the current favourite to win most of the sprinting Group 1 races this carnival with Australian betting sites and he is expected to be a short-priced commodity in this Saturday’s Victory Stakes.