By Glenn Davis
The mind games have started ahead of the Champagne Classic with the much-awaited clash between boom youngsters Rothfire and Isotope at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Trainer Rob Heathcote is confident of a strong showing from Rothfire but says he won’t be surprised if flying filly Isotope beats his star youngster in the Group 2 feature.
It’s generally regarded that Rothfire, a winner of four of his five starts, will lead the 1200-metre two-year-old sprint, with premier trainer Tony Gollan’s unbeaten filly Isotope and the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Wild Ruler in hot pursuit.
Rothfire was regarded as the State’s best two-year-old after winning his first four starts but the shine was tarnished slightly with his defeat to Toowoomba youngster Kisukano at his first 1200-metre attempt in the QTIS Jewel at the Gold Coast in March.
While Rothfire was out spelling, Gollan produced Isotope who won her first start by 10 lengths over 1110 metres at Doomben before another runaway victory over 1000 metres at the Sunshine Coast in April.
Those wins set up a dream clash tomorrow with Rothfire, who is preparing for another showdown with Isotope in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 6.
In latest TAB markets for the J.J. Atkins, Isotope and Wisdom Of Water share favouritism at $5 with Rothfire on the second line of betting at $8.00.
Rothfire will go into the Champagne Classic without a barrier trial but Heathcote is not concerned.
“I could have trialled him on Tuesday but I thought it was too close to tomorrow’s race,” Heathcote said.
“He had a jump out and went well last week and I’m expecting him to run well.
“He’s got a lot of pace and he’ll probably lead but he doesn’t have to.
“It’ll take a very fast horse to cross him and Isotope is his biggest danger.
“She’s very quick and can lead or take a sit and I wouldn’t be surprised if she beats him.”
Heathcote admits the 1200-metre first-up is a concern for Rothfire.
“He led at the Gold Coast at his only start over 1200 metres and got beaten but it was on a rain affected track,” Heathcote said.
“It’s a challenge for him first-up over 1200 metres and I suppose he’s vulnerable.
“I’ve been in this game a long time; I’m a realist and I know Isotope is a very good filly and Peter Snowden’s Wild Ruler also will be hard to beat.”
Heathcote is chasing his third Champagne Classic victory after winning with Chenar in 2000 and Funtantes in 2009 while Gollan is looking for his first win.
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