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Startantes warming up for return Sydney trip

By Glenn Davis

Group 1 placegetter Startantes is one of the smallest fillies Rob Heathcote has trained, but what the three-year-old lacks in size, she makes up for with her big heart.

Startantes is being aimed at the Group 1 Surround Stakes over 1400 metres at Randwick on February 26 and will make her long awaited return in the Open Handicap over 1000 metres at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

Startantes was also an acceptor for the QTIS Three-Year-old Handicap over 1000 metres but the decision to take on Open company sprinters was made easier after drawing perfectly in gate one.

Startantes hasn’t raced since finishing last in the $2 million Invitation for fillies and mares at Randwick on October 23.

It’s a race Heathcote likes to forget after a critical assessment of jockey Robbie Doolan’s ride.

Heathcote has warned he could withdraw Startantes depending on the weather.

“We've had a bit of rain already and if it’s too wet, I won’t run her,” Heathcote said.

“Her target is the Surround Stakes in Sydney and she’s taking on a smart field first-up so it’s not going to be easy.

“There’s some smart sprinters in this race like Weona Smartone who has only been beaten once and Racecourse Road who is one of the fastest horses around.

“She’s only had one trial and I’m not sure whether she can beat those two but she’ll be running on strongly.”

Startantes

Nicknamed “Little Pumpkin” because of her tiny stature, Heathcote said Startantes would be lucky to stand 15 hands.

“She’s tiny and would be about 15 hands at best and is one of the smallest fillies I’ve ever trained,” he said.

“This race is more like a barrier trial for her before she goes to Sydney.

‘She’ll come back straight after that race in Sydney and get set for the Brisbane winter.”

Startantes showed she could mix it with the best in Sydney last year when she produced an eye-catching finish for sixth in the Group 1 Golden Rose at Randwick last September.

She then flashed home to finish third to the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Never Been Kissed in the Group 1 Flight Stakes at Randwick.

“It was a phenomenal run in the Golden Rose,” Heathcote said.

“She was damn unlucky to draw wide and she had to go back from the alley.

“I was over the moon with her run in the Flight Stakes.

“She made up a ton of ground and her future is now assured as she’s Group 1-placed.”

Heathcote is undecided about Startantes’ Brisbane winter mission but hasn’t ruled out the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm in June.

“There’s a long way to go before we set any lofty goals and she still needs to qualify for the Stradbroke,” he said.

Races

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Doomben | Brisbane Racing Club@Doomben | 1:33 PM

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