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By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, May 22, 2014

Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the multi-premiership and Group 1 winning trainer appears exclusively on HRO.

It was a little bit of a sad day for the stable last Saturday when the old stable war horse, Solzhenitsyn ran his final race.

It’s been well documented that he underwent throat surgery last spring and he was making a comeback but it was a near-fore fetlock injury which brought down the curtain on a wonderful career.

From his very first race for the stable I earmarked him as a potential star of the track. I think it was only a fifth placing at Doomben back in June 2011, but he came from last with a real eye catching run.

It didn’t take long for him to show his real ability. He strung together three City metro wins through July and August. We looked after him after that campaign and gave him a good long break with an eye on the Winter Carnival of 2012.

It was during this carnival where he really started to shine winning the first of his two Lord Mayor’s Cups. The spring of that year he then rose to national prominence winning the first of his two Group 1 Toorak Handicap victories during the VRC Spring Carnival.

I reckon he was damned stiff not to win the Moonee Valley Vase that year as well getting caught in on the fence but he attacked the line for a fast finishing third.


In the autumn of 2013 he arguably ran one of his career best races. First up in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes over 1300m, he sat three deep and was headed out by Pierro and More Joyous. It was a super run and showed he still had the quality to compete at the highest level … but the Autumn Carnival in Sydney ultimately turned out to be a mess with dreadful weather and Solzhie was not effective on the wet tracks!

Back home for our Winter Carnival for the second of his Lord Mayor Cup wins before he once again shone on the national stage in the VRC carnival being an unlucky third in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke with Nash dirty on himself saying he should have won … but it was not long before he made amends with a history making back to back win in the Group 1 Toorak.

Yes, a little bit sad to see the curtain come down last Saturday but I think Damon, a part owner summed it up best to me in his email …

Well our SOLZHENITSYN ride is over, what a ride it’s been, who would have thought our poorly bred gelding would take us to the heights he did, 2 Gr 1's & a little bit of racing history in back to back Toorak’s, huge thanks to Rob Heathcote & the team for an amazing job they did with him & we should also remember & thank Richard Otto for all the early work & biggest thanks of all to my genius mate Paul Willetts for finding him for $10,000 at a wintery NZ weanling sale, it’s been a blast, thanks SOLZ!

Yes, well said Damon and I think it’s tremendous that the team are flying him back home to NZ so he can spend the rest of his years on the lush pastures of Trelawny Stud in the care of part owners Cherry and Brent Taylor.

Yep, it was a fantastic journey the ‘Big Russian’ took us all on. The memories will live long!


As we said farewell to one champ, hopefully another one has emerged.

Pinch River won his first stakes race in emphatic style taking his record to three wins from his five starts. I have long had a nice opinion of this Denman youngster and I am forecasting a very good career for him.

He had to overcome a wide barrier, he worked hard to get to the lead and he then relaxed lovely for Damian and sprinted strongly for a solid win in good time. Yes, maybe he was advantaged by the on pace bias but he was still impressive!

We are not setting the bar too high for him at this stage, electing to now go for the Hampden Stakes in another two weeks and then maybe the one more on Tatts day before a spell. He looks like he could be in for a very good three-year-old season, maybe even a trip interstate if he keeps progressing!


This Saturday sees one of the highlights of the Winter Carnival … the running of the time honoured Doomben 10,000 and the race on Saturday looks to be another sterling edition of the classic with real proven Group 1 quality sprinters.

Buffering will again be prominent in the market as he seeks to win at the highest level in his own backyard. A Group 1 win has eluded him at home and fair to say as he gets older it is certainly not getting any easier.

He has had a few niggling issues this prep after his wonderful spring which has him racing below his very best. For whatever reason, be it the few chiropractic issues he has had recently, the fact that he’s getting older and he’s coming of a real gut buster in the TJ Smith, we have not left a stone unturned to get him back to his best.

He certainly needs to lift his game on his last run … anything but their best will not see any horse win a Group 1 race.

Going forward to the Stradbroke will certainly hinge on his performance on Saturday and his post-race recovery. After being runner-up the past two years it would be fitting to give him another crack at the race but he needs to be at or very near to his best form to warrant taking his place in the Straddie.

Saturday will tell all!

If he runs another race similar to his BTC Cup run, in all likelihood he will be going for a spell with the Spring Carnival his next target.

The weather looks great for the remainder of the week so we are really looking forward to another super day of racing.

Kind regards,


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Robert Heathcote
Robert Heathcote
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best