The Robert Heathcote-trained Rothfire is the new J.J. Atkins favourite for the Group 1 at Eagle Farm on June 6 following his dominant performance in the Group 2 $175,000 Champagne Classic (1200m) on Saturday.
A winner of his opening four career starts, the son of Rothesay hadn’t raced since suffering his first defeat when runner-up at an odds-on quote at the Gold Coast in mid-March.
Premier Brisbane horseman Heathcote was relieved to have his progressive gelding back in winning form fresh with jockey Jim Byrne guiding Rothfire to an all-the-way win in the Champagne Classic.
The eventual winner was quick out of the gates and despite over-racing slightly in the early stages, enjoyed a smooth run up front with the uncontested lead dictating in the Group 2 without any real pressure.
Once on the straight, Rothfire gave his customary late burst with a great kick inside the final 300m and charged ahead for a one and a half length win over the previously undefeated Deep Field filly Isotope.
Tony Gollan’s one-time favourite Isotope finished just ahead of the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Sydney raider Wild Ruler who ran third in the Champagne Classic trifecta.
Heathcote, who celebrated his third Champagne Classic success following his first stakes win in 2000 with Chenar and then taking it out again with her daughter Funtantes in 2009, confirmed plans to head into the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1400m) next-up with Rothfire.
The J.J. Atkins runs over 200m shorter than its traditional mile distance this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, which looks ideal for Rothfire.
The bookmakers at Ladbrokes.com.au were quick to react to the Champagne Classic results, Rothfire firming in from $5.50 to $4 favouritism.