Robert Heathcote puts the longevity of his horses to a simple formula of being kind to them.
Heathcote and his fellow owners retired nine-year-old champion Buffering last week but the trainer still has a solid core of “old boys” in his stable.
Another nine-year-old Jopa and his seven-year-old stablemate Saluter are expected to play major roles in the Padua College Open Hcp (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
They will be joined by five-year-old Punta Norte in the race giving Heathcote a strong hand.
Heathcote said it was obviously every trainer’s aim to get his horses though to open company and to race for as long as possible.
“I have had success with older horses and another one of my veterans, eight-year-old Volkhere, was entered for Saturday but I didn’t accept,” Heathcote said.
“He will be back in a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to his summer.”
Heathcote said he was a strong believer in not taking any chances with his horses and being aware of any problems they have.
“I often say the horse will tell us if there is a problem and it is true,” he said.
“I am not the only one. Look at Chris Waller with Winx when he always errs on the side of caution.”
Heathcote said Jopa had been nursed along since joining his stable.
“He came to us as a six-year-old and was obviously well looked after before that. But we have been able to win nine races and about $500,000 with him,” Heathcote said.
“There wouldn’t be many nine-year-olds heading for a three wins in a row on Saturday.
“Saluter also had good early form when he won a Magic Millions Guineas. But late in his career we have had to manage his leg problems.
“The girls in the stable do a terrific job looking after him. He has his legs in ice a lot but he still loves racing.”
Another key to Heathcote’s plans is to keep weight off the backs of his older horses.
He has booked claiming apprentices Tiffani Brooker (Saluter) and Bridget Grylls (Jopa) for Saturday’s race.