Hidden Kisses firmly backed up trainer Robert Heathcote’s decision to run the two-year-old at Eagle Farm in the Mirvac Hotels and Resorts QTIS 600 2YO Handicap 1400m on Saturday, March 20.
Many said the filly would have opened as race favourite at the Gold Coast in the feature $250,000 QTIS 600 2YO Handicap 1200m on the same day, but Heathcote had a bigger picture in mind.
“It was always a tough decision not to go to the Gold Coast, as opposed to coming here (Eagle Farm),” Heathcote said. “I do believe we made the right decision, and of course winning vindicates that.
“People said to me, ‘you’ve got to go to the Gold Coast, it’s worth $250,000’. I said, ‘well the one in town is worth $110,000…I’m not greedy’. A bird in the hand so they say.
“I think it was the way the races would be run that determined the decision, and this filly gets well back.
“Actually I think she hit the line this time as hard as when she won over 1200m. So going to 1400m second up was really a super effort.”
Heathcote said it was always in the back of his mind to take her to the $300,000 Group 1 Sires’ Produce 1400m at Randwick on April 10, and her run at Eagle Farm has made this a certainty.
The trainer, a clear leader in the metropolitan trainers premiership, is also toying with the idea of a full raid on the south by starting in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes 1600m at the same track a fortnight later.
The Heathcote and Larry Cassidy combination struck again at Eagle Farm with Hidden Kisses, by Hidden Dragon out of Kiss an Angel, collecting her second win from only three starts. Her only miss being a third place in the filly’s first outing.
The QTIS 600 and QTIS registered two-year-old’s prizemoney has increased dramatically to $159,000, which includes $90,000 in QTIS 600 added stakes.
“The operative word is probably class,” Heathcote said after his new star thoroughbred overcame plenty at Eagle Farm.
“That’s the difference between good horses and very good horses, the level of class they have. From day one I’ve had a high opinion of her.
“On Saturday (March 20) she got back to last. A masterful ride from Cassidy saw him weave his way through the field and she ran them down.”
The trainer has a high opinion of the Hidden Dragon bloodline since they entered his stable. “I actually believe they’ll get better when they get over a little bit more ground and mature a little bit.
“So it’s actually a very nice bonus that she’s had three runs as a juvenile, which were three crackers.”
Hidden Kisses put a half length between herself and John Thompson’s Hour of Peril, who was ridden by Chris Munce.
Stephen Got Even finished in third a further one and a quarter lengths behind for Dalby-based trainer Matt Kropp and jockey Jason Taylor.
As a solely QTIS registered horse, Stephen Got Even picked up $3000 in added stakes, but missed out on the QTIS 600 double-up bonus.
Hidden Kisses was purchased for $25,000 at the 2009 Magic Millions Yearling Sales for “passionate racing man”, Richard Pegum, a businessman based in London who races thoroughbreds across Australia.
“He (Pegum) started to venture into Queensland because of the lucrative QTIS (600) scheme where he can race for such good prizemoney,” Heathcote said.
“Hidden Kisses is his first horse with me, but so impressed is he with the scheme that he lashed out and spent $80,000 on a Hidden Dragon colt from the QTIS 600 Sales. So he’s happy to reinvest in Queensland racing.”
Heathcote could be seen at the 2010 QTIS 600 Magic Millions Yearling Sales on the Gold Coast, March 21 and 22, looking to purchase his next ‘Hidden Kisses’ for the 2010/11 racing season.
He ended up with four yearlings from the QTIS 600 Sale to accompany the five that he picked up at January’s Magic Millions Sales. “There’s a nice little team of juveniles for next year,” he said with excitement at his prospects.
Heathcote added a win by Tabulate to his successful day in the Childhood Cancer Support Open Handicap 2200m.
The five-year-old gelding by Honours List (IRE) was in peak form coming off a win and a second from his last two starts. However, he had to overcome an unwanted spell for one month after the Tattersall’s Racing Club March 6 meeting at Eagle Farm was abandoned due to rain.
“Keeping a horse trained up for 2200 metres when they haven’t had a run for a month was a little bit of a ticklish problem, but obviously we got it right,” Heathcote said.
“I was initially going to give him a little let up after his win on Saturday, but with the rare form that he seems to be in at the moment it would be a waste to put him in the paddock. So we’ll strike while the irons hot.”
Queensland connections have unearthed some brilliant thoroughbred racing prospects in the 2009/10 racing season, as evidenced by Military Rose’s charge to the Golden Slipper and her stablemate Sweepstaking’s second at Rosehill on March 20. The Sunshine State also has the rise and rise of the John Wallace-trained Shoot Out, who has already bagged an Autumn Carnival Group 1, to be proud of.
Hopefully it won’t be long before we add Hidden Kisses to the growing list of horses making their name down south, and rightfully lifting the profile of racing in Queensland.