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Dune Forty Five aims to climb stakes mountain

Wed 24 April 2024

By Glenn Davis

From a stakes place getter to a stakes winner – that’s the mountain trainer Robert Heathcote hopes Dune Forty Five can climb at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Dune Forty Five – a Michael Rodd mount - tackles the Listed Brisbane Mile over 1600 metres which carries a lucrative prize money purse of $174,000 to the winner.

The six-year-old is owned by Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell who has had plenty of success as an owner over the years including the 1999 Caulfield Cup win with Sky Heights.

Heathcote has won the Brisbane Mile (formerly the Brisbane Handicap) four times, but it’s been 10 years since his last success with his former star galloper Hopfgarten in 2014.

His previous Brisbane Handicap winners were Fillydelphia (2011), Our Lukas (2009) and General Minolta in 2003.

Dune Forty Five arrived in Heathcote’s stable just over a year ago and was successful in his first two starts at Doomben in March and April of last year.

His best performances since was finishing second to the Kris Lees-trained Kalapour in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap at Doomben last May.

He also won the Mooloolaba Cup over 1600 metres at the Sunshine Coast in November.

“He came to me as a very moderate galloper, but he’s won more than $330,000 for his owners in the last 12 months,” Heathcote said.

“He ran well in the Chairman’s Handicap last year behind two horses that have won at Group level.”

Dune Forty Five was placed in the Shoot Out at Doomben in December before producing a tidy effort first-up when seventh to the Chris Meagher-trained Arentee in a 1350 metre Open Handicap at Doomben on April 13.

“I thought his first-up run was very good as he lost a length on the home turn and I couldn’t get a barrier trial into him for that race because of the wet weather,” Heathcote said.

“I think he’s a chance but being second-up over a mile without a barrier trial will be testing.”

Meanwhile, Heathcote concedes Magic Millions Guineas winner Abounding faces a daunting task against a slick field in the Listed Mick Dittman Plate over 1000 metres.

Abounding - a Martin Harley mount – hasn’t appeared since her Magic Millions Guineas victory but has been given a solid grounding for her return after winning a 1000 metre barrier trial at Doomben on April 11.

“She’s going super, but she faces a near impossible task to beat Skirt The Law and some handy other horses over 1000 metres,” Heathcote said.

“She’s getting ready for 1200 and 1400 metres and her next run will be the Gold Coast Guineas before the Fred Best and the Stradbroke.

“But, if any of her opposition make a mistake on Saturday, she’ll be there to pick them off.”