Hoop of the moment Luke Nolen enjoyed a first-up win at Eagle Farm this afternoon aboard Robert Heathcote’s classy galloper Heartshaker in the perfect warm-up for the jockey before he takes the mount aboard Fillydelphia in the Queensland Oaks.
“It warmed him up nicely for the Oaks didn’t it,” Heathcote said of Luke Nolen after the win on Heartshaker.
Given a gun run by Nolen, five-year-old Show A Heart gelding Heartshaker held the perfect position throughout the opening Queensland Oaks Day race, settling fifth on the rails behind early leader Ghostinthedarkenss in the $50,000 MITTYS Class 6 Plate (1800m).
Nolen timed the winning run to perfection, keeping Heartshaker just back off the speed throughout ensuring they had plenty of petrol left in the tank for a beautiful finish.
On the turn for home Heartshaker quickly got into the clear and went past them with 300m left to travel.
In a decisive finish that put their true talent on display, Heartshaker won running away and was well clear on the line crossing three and a half lengths clear of the John Thompson-trained Legislature.
A further three quarters of a length away third was World Wide, ridden by Hugh Bowman, while Yummy was a fast-finishing fourth just an extra longneck back again.
Earlier in the week Heathcote had tipped Heartshaker as his “best genuine chance” of the day and it proved the winning prediction from Brisbane’s premier trainer.
The victory added to a plethora of success Heathcote and his team have enjoyed this Brisbane Winter Carnival, and that they are hoping to add to later today.
“Things are going well and we’ve been competitive right throughout the carnival,” Heathcote said.
He also had nothing but praise for Nolen after the opening win.
“Just to stand in his presence, he oozes confidence,” Heathcote said.
When Nolen asked Heathcote before the race what the instructions were, Heathcote said he told the hoop: “None, just do what you do.”
Heathcote is now even more optimistic that his duo of fillies will perform well in the $400,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m), running as Race 7 at Eagle Farm.
The trainer will saddle up both Hidden Kisses in barrier two with Larry Cassidy aboard, and Fillydelphia out wider in gate 11 but to be ridden by Nolen.
“I think both of mine will go well (in the Oaks),” Heathcote said.
“Fillydelphia I favour a touch.
“(But) they’ve all got to get to the 24 hundred (metres) and that’s the question mark.”
Nolen was also confident Fillydelphia would give Oaks favourite Scarlett Lady some stiff competition later today.
Currently Fillydelphia is rated a $12 chance in the fillies’ classic, with stablemate Hidden Kisses a $35 outsider.
The double-figure price on Heathcote’s Bianconi filly are likely based on the fact she ran fourth in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) last start in open company, before which she was the emphatic three length winner of the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m).
“If she hadn’t had that run last week (in the Grand Prix), she would have go in (to the Oaks) on the second line of betting,” Nolen stated.
He also said he didn’t have any doubts Fillydelphia would get to the 2400m in the Oaks this afternoon.