Trainer Rob Heathcote concedes Gondola Girl will never replicate the deeds of her famous relative Show A Heart and will be overjoyed if she can make a successful comeback at Doomben.
Heathcote will continue his association with jockey Paul Hammersley on Gondola Girl who will have her first start since late September in Wednesday’s SITA Australia Handicap (1110m).
Gondola Girl, a daughter of Thorn Park, is a half-sister to multiple Group One winner Show A Heart who has gone on to be highly-successful sire.
“She’s been in work long enough and has done well and is ready for her return,” Heathcote said.
“This distance is probably short of her best first-up but she’ll be very competitive.
“She’ll never be a Show A Heart but we’re hoping she can go on this campaign and win a Saturday race which will boost her stud value.”
Gondola Girl, a three-time winner in 21 starts, has not raced since finishing seventh in a 1400-metre Class 3 at Caloundra on September 25.
Heathcote resists having a stable rider and prefers to spread his rides among several jockeys.
“Jim Byrne currently does the bulk of my riding but I don’t have a stable rider as such,” Heathcote said.
As well as Byrne, Heathcote has been using Damian Browne, Glen Colless and Hammersley to do his riding in recent times.
“Paul has got a few rides again for me tomorrow and he has no problems with his weight,” Heathcote said.
“He’s a quality jockey and I rate him in the top half-dozen riders in the state.”
Heathcote had Gondola Girl nominated for Eagle Farm last week but scratched her on race morning when the track was heavy.
“I only got back from the sales in New Zealand last Wednesday and I didn’t expect the track to improve so much as it did during the day,” he said.
Heathcote has seven runners engaged at Doomben and rates Gondola Girl and Starlistic in the Carlton Mid Handicap (1350m) as the pick of them.
“I think they all have each-way chances but Gondola Girl and Starlistic are probably my best hopes,” he said.
Starlistic, a Byrne mount, broke through for her maiden victory at Eagle Farm in December before going down less than a length when fourth in a Class 3 at Doomben on January 4.
At her last appearance, the four-year-old finished well for third in a 1200-metre Class 2 at Ipswich on January 20.
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