Close call for Availability

Premier trainer Rob Heathcote is in two minds whether to send talented sprinter Availability south for the spring carnivals.

Availability landed the QTIS Programmed Maintenance Services Handicap (1000m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday but the winning margin was only a long head.  Heathcote would have preferred a more convincing victory before committing to a trip to Sydney and/or Melbourne.

Availability (3g Exceed And Excel – Cosmic Strike by Made Of Gold) had blitzed his rivals on debut at Doomben last month and the trainer took the blame for the close call.

“I tried to freshen him up because he was dropping back in distance,” Heathcote said.  “I would have preferred a longer distance, preferably 1200 metres.”

Heathcote rates Availability favourably to his stable star Buffering who campaigned successful in Sydney and Melbourne last spring.  “He’s been an exciting horse from the first day he stepped foot into the stable,” he said.  “I guess he’s done a good job considering it’s still his first preparation.”

Availability was bred by Barree Stud and he failed to reach a $170,000 reserve when offered by Toolooganvale Farm at the 2010 Inglis Easter yearling Sale.

Darley shuttler Exceed And Excel got him from Flemington G3 winner Cosmic Strike.  Her latest foal to race follows earlier winners Cosmic Choice (Redoute’s Choice), Luce del Mare (Fastnet Rock) and Cosmic Bolt (Tale of the Cat).

Exceed And Excel sired a G2 winner a few hours later when Excelebration landed the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.  He had won the G2 German 2000 Guineas by seven lengths in May before finishing third to Frankel in the G1 St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Excelebration is one of 16 stakes winners for Exceed And Excel in 2011.  Darley homebred Helmet leads the way and he has been installed a pre-post favourite for the G1 Caulfield Guineas in October.