Trainer Darryl Hansen rules out spring feast for Le Chef
MAGIC Millions winner Le Chef will aim to plunder local riches in Queensland over the next 12 months rather than being set for an audacious Melbourne spring campaign.
Darryl Hansen’s star two-year-old trialled in impressive fashion on the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday and will return to racing in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) at Doomben on May 9.
The main goal is the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) on Stradbroke Handicap Day in June, with Hansen feeling Le Chef will eat up the extra ground.
Hansen has ruled out a tilt at the Spring Carnival despite owners initially considering the Caulfield Guineas in the afterglow of Le Chef’s Magic Millions triumph in January.
“He won’t be going to Melbourne,” Hansen told The Courier-Mail. “We will put him away after the Winter Carnival and give him a nice long spell and set him for the Magic Millions three-year-old race next year.
“I think if he comes back to the races as good as he went out, he will give a couple of very good Winter Carnival races a real shake.
“He gives me the impression he will be a terrific 1400m-1600m horse.”
Le Chef’s Magic Millions win justified the $120,000 splurge on the youngster at last year’s Magic Millions Yearling Sale after owner Lenore Saunders sold her Coffee Club in Mount Isa to help fund her racing dream.
The Saunders family also race Le Chef’s full brother Le Cap who is hoping to gain a start in Saturday’s $150,000 Weetwood Handicap (1200m) in Toowoomba.
Le Cap ran second in last year’s Cleveland Bay Handicap in Townsville and has since embarked on an off-the-beaten track campaign which has included starts in Birdsville and Mount Isa.
Le Cap went to another trainer for his bush starts but is now back with Hansen who insists he deserves a go at the Weetwood.
Punters who backed him at $1.14 at Birdsville last September, only to see him beaten into second in a four-horse field, are unlikely to be on him again.
“He didn’t like that environment out there in Birdsville and the sticky bush track,’’ Hansen said. “I hope he sneaks into the Weetwood field because he deserves a throw at the stumps.
“I started him first-up in Toowoomba recently and that race was like a barrier trial for him because he got lost going up the hill before he hit the line really hard.’’
Meanwhile, trainer Rob Heathcote will start Hopfgarten in Saturday’s Toowoomba Cup (2150m). The gelding is likely to be one of the betting fancies behind Pornichet.
Sydney hoop Hugh Bowman has been booked to ride El Roca in the Group 1 BTC Cup on May 9. The horse is returning from more than a year out with injury.