ON what was a spectacular Sunday afternoon of sport, Great Heavens continued her vast improvement when winning the fourth Irish Classic of the season. But not after her fate was put before the Curragh stewards following Sunday’s big race.
Sent off the well supported 5/4 favourite for the Darley Irish Oaks, John Gosden’s filly looked as though she was going to be out of luck when she got jammed in along the inside rail, leaving William Buick no option but to change his direction and delay his challenge in the process.
However, Great Heavens, who had won her previous three races heading into Sunday’s race, showed that she is a seriously classy filly with a fine turn of foot to come late down the outside and deny fellow English raider Shirocco Star compensation for her Epsom Oaks defeat.
Princess Highway was best of team Ireland with a respectable effort in third.
“That was an anxious few minutes” relayed John Gosden after hearing that there was no alteration following the lengthy stewards’ enquiry. “She got boxed in and with the draw on the inside it was never the intention to stay there. Johnny Murtagh was holding his line, as he’s entitled to, and it was a case for every jockey for himself out there, which is always the case in these big races. I’d nearly given up hope at the two-furlong marker.” added Gosden.
“She showed a lot of class and a lot of courage. The ground is very holding so it’s not easy to pick up on that. I’d nearly given up hope at the two furlong marker. I didn’t think we’d get out but she’s got a lot of ability. She’s classy. She’s one of those rare ones that seems to eat and do better - she’s got a good temperament. It’s not easy with this weather. She’ll be freshened up now and then she’ll be in races like the Yorkshire Oaks and she could also have an entry in the Leger.
“I think she has to go to the Leger now and I’d love to run her in it. There’s no reason that a filly of her class couldn’t do something like that and someone has got to take on Camelot.” added Gosden on Great Heavens, who would bid to emulate User Friendly, who completed the Irish Oaks and St Leger double in 1992.
And on the winning jockey William Buick, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday, Gosden only had this to say. “I wouldn’t have fancied sitting beside the birthday boy on the Ryanair flight home if he hadn’t have got out in time.” added Gosden, who also reported Nathanial to have come out of his King George runner-up performance in great form and his end of season target remains the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
And speaking of the birthday boy William Buick, who received a reminiscence of ’happy birthday, shortly after dismounting Great Heavens, he too was overjoyed to enjoy his first Irish Classic success.
“What a filly! That’s certainly one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had. It got a bit tricky halfway there and I was kind of cursing myself at one stage. She was the best horse by far in the race. She picks up and she quickens. She’s a very good filly and I think people have underestimated her. It was a good training performance by John Gosden as she didn’t really come to hand early in the season and he’s just given her time and confidence and picked up nice races in between. She came here with her confidence sky high.” added the 24-year-old.
Paddy Power introduced Great Heavens at 6/1 for the St Leger at Doncaster in October, in which Camelot is their 1/3 favourite.
Aidan O’Brien hadn’t won the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes since 2005 going into last Sunday’s renewal and even though the late withdrawal of Cristoforo Colombo reduced his hand to just one runner, he was still expected to land the odds with Count Of Limonade in Sunday’s renewal. However, Jim Bolger had other ideas as Grafelli put up a classy performance to win this juvenile contest in easy fashion.
“I thought he had a great chance today as he was proven on the ground and had been working well. I expect him to stay a mile and he’s shown before that he’s effective from six furlongs so I don’t think trip matters. He handles the soft ground very well but I think he might even be better on better ground. We might aim him at a race in France next, Chantilly maybe, as the owners like having runners there.” said Bolger of Grafelli, who received a quote of 33/1 from Paddy Power for the 2013 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas.
Bolger also reported that Dawn Approach was “in good form and will be out next inside the next four weeks.” The Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October remains the end of season target for the Royal Ascot winner, a race Bolger has won with Teofilo, New Approach and Parish Hall in recent years.
David Wachman had won two of the previous four Kilboy Estate Stakes heading into Sunday and he continued his fine record in that Group 3 contest after Tannery showed fine determination to beat hot favourite Caponata.
“She is a very tough filly and seems to handle any kind of ground. There is a good programme of races here in Ireland for her and she might go for the Blandford Stakes. She could also go for a race in the US in the autumn.”” said Wachman afterwards while Wayne Lordan said that she could get a chance later in the season to “take on the big guns in a Group 1 contest.”
Michael Halford enjoyed success over Irish Derby weekend and he saddled a double on the card courtesy of Dibayani and Zariyna. Dibayani, sent off the 8/13 favourite, confirmed his debut promise to take the illustrious Darley EBF Maiden under Johnny Murtagh, which has been won by the likes of Teofilo, New Approach and Sea The Stars in the past and Dibayani did the job well under Murtagh to score in cosy fashion.
“Experience might have been the key today but he’s a horse we like and Dibayani could be a name to keep an eye on.” said Halford afterwards. Zariyna completed the double for Halford when winning the O’Brien’s Wines Handicap under Shane Foley.
And Nina Carberry landed her fourth Thalgo Ladies Derby on board Placere, who travelled ominously well under Ireland’s leading lady jockey before winning this decent pot in really impressive fashion.