By Ray Hickson
Trainer Robert Heathcote says anything that wants to lead his star three-year-old Rothfire at Rosehill on Saturday will only bring themselves undone.
It sets up a fascinating early tactical battle with Golden Slipper winner Farnan in the Group 2 $200,000 De Bortoli Wines Run To The Rose (1200m).
Rothfire has drawn barrier two with Farnan in six and Heathcote said they’ll take full advantage.
“My bloke is very quick out of the gate there’s no doubt about that so we’re not going to change anything,’’ Heathcote said.
“He’ll come out of the gates hot, that’s what he does, it really depends on how much intent Hugh (Bowman) has on Farnan.
“Rothfire doesn’t have to lead but first-up and fresh I anticipate him being there, if they want to lead at all costs then they’ll do some work.
“Really it’s up to Hugh, if he wants to cross us he’ll spend a lot of gas.”
The Group 1 JJ Atkins winner, $4.40 second favourite with TAB, arrived at John Thompson’s Randwick stable on Thursday where he’ll be overseen by Mel Sharp who travelled regularly with Buffering for Heathcote.
The trainer is confident his gelding has done more than enough work, despite a small hiccup late last month, for fitness not to be any reason for a defeat.
“He’s settled in to John’s stable, he’s nice and bright and ready to go,’’ he said.
“I missed a crucial jump out, that was a little setback but I feel I’ve made up for it in a couple of course proper gallops at Eagle Farm.
“It’s a very similar path I took during the winter. He won the Champagne Stakes off a break then he was primed for the JJ Atkins and he was awesome in that.”
Like all the three-year-olds in the Run To The Rose, the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in two weeks is a major target but Rothfire has the added focus of being a confirmed TAB Everest runner.
He was the fourth horse locked in for next month’s $15m feature when miRunners came calling late last week and Heathcote said that brings a bit of extra performance pressure.
It was widely reported that there is an ‘out’ in the arrangement if Rothfire, a winner of six of his seven starts, doesn’t meet expectations – though Heathcote is confident he will.
“The Golden Rose is initially the target, until last week, and if we run a big race we know we have a bit of certainty about the Everest if he holds his form,’’ he said.
“It’s more than a little bit of pressure, a big run on Saturday is crucial to him lining up in the Everest.
“I’m comfortable in saying it’s a good pressure, we’ve been there before. The experience of the six year journey Buffering took us on holds us in good stead.
“If he can match it with Farnan and North Pacific and Peltzer then, yeah, I’m confident to rock and roll. As long as it’s a good solid run and he runs up to my expectation (the Everest) is where we are headed.”
Jockey Jim Byrne arrives in Sydney putting his faith in Rothfire knowing he must complete a two week quarantine period when he returns to Queensland later this spring.
He’s picked up the ride on Stradbroke winner Tyzone in the Group 2 $200,000 Iron Jack Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) and co-trainer Toby Edmonds says his Group 1 winner is a lot more forward than when he was last seen in Sydney for a first-up run.
That was in the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) in March and he was beaten five lengths by Greyworm before taking out the Stradbroke three runs later.
Rothfire wins a trial at Doomben on August 11
“He’s come back really well, all his work has been positive and he looks pretty forward,’’ Edmonds said.
“We didn’t have him anywhere near wound up before like we have this time. He was quite gross and raced really fresh that day, to my eyes he’s a fair bit further forward.
“He’ll be ridden patiently, he doesn’t have to be right back and he’s better off once he gets to the outside of horses.”
Tyzone will be on trial for a start in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at his next appearance in the Shannon Stakes, a week prior to the Randwick mile.
Edmonds said his back-up plan is to wait until the $1m Yes Yes Yes Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on October 31.
“We’ll run at 1500m to get a guide on whether he runs the Epsom trip or we have to come back a couple of hundred,’’ he said.