By Glenn Davis
Trainer Rob Heathcote has been forced to change plans with talented sprinter Emerald Kingdom who will make his open company debut at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Heathcote accepted with Emerald Kingdom in the Open Handicap (1400m) as well as the Class Six Handicap (1200m) and preferred to start him in the restricted grade race.
However, Emerald Kingdom drew poorly in barrier 14 in the Class Six compared to a much more favourable gate six in the Open Handicap.
Emerald Kingdom has never been tried beyond 1200 metres and is aiming to stretch his winning sequence to six in his first open company test.
The five-year-old took his record to six wins from 11 starts when he scored an easy all the way win in a 1200-metre Class Six at Eagle Farm on February 22.
“I much preferred to start him in the Class Six but he drew badly compared to the open race,” Heathcote said.
“He hasn’t been over 1400 metres before but he’s a big free running type and I can’t see why he won’t run it.”
Heathcote was delighted with Emerald Kingdom’s latest win when he fought off all challenges.
“He got well and truly softened up last run yet he still fought on very strongly to win,” he said.
“It’s the sign of a good horse who can win five in a row with four of them in the city.
“His last win was better than I first thought and this race will determine where we go next.”
Heathcote originally was reluctant to consider Emerald Kingdom a winter carnival horse but the way he keeps stepping up to the mark may cause him to rethink a winter campaign.
“He’s a handful to train and is such a strong-willed horse but he’s got the ability to win in open company,” he said.
Heathcote has five runners entered for Doomben including Dee Day Diva in the QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap (1400m) and last start winner Bellissimi Amici in the QTIS Two-Year-Old Handicap (1200m).
Dee Day Diva won twice at the Sunshine Coast before a game third to Naval Strike and Profit in a 1400-metre Three-Year-Old race at Eagle Farm on February 22.
Bellissimi Amici continued a winning family tradition by scoring over 1300 metres at her third start the same day while Plitvice is another Heathcote runner attempting to make it three wins from his past four starts in the Benchmark 75 Handicap (1600m).
Racing Queensland webnews March 4