Heavy rainfall predicted for Melbourne late this week has co-trainer Simon Zahra concerned about the Moonee Valley track conditions as the stable’s mare Heatherly prepares for a first-up run in the Carlyon Stakes on Saturday.
Currently the course is rated a Soft (5), but Zahra is worried there will be a downgrade into the Heavy range for the running of the $120,000 Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) on the weekend.
The set weights plus penalties sprint attracted 19 nominations this season including Lonhro mare Heatherly prepared by Zahra and Mathew Ellerton.
A winner of four of her nine career starts to date, the now four-year-old has had three previous Moonee Valley runs for two wins and a third.
She won Caulfield’s Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) by a runaway five and a half-lengths in mid-February in her best win so far before stepping up in class last time out.
Heatherly hasn’t raced since her brave third back at Caulfield on February 27 when defeated under a length by the winner Flamberge in a blanket finish for the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
She is yet to race on anything worse than a Good track however so Zahra said the team would be tempted to miss the Carlyon Stakes if the conditions didn’t suit.
“If we got the kind of rain they’re predicting and the track was to come up a Heavy 9 or Heavy 10 then we’d have to work that out on the day,” he told Racing Victoria.
“We don’t want to be giving her a gut-buster first-up so we’ll just see what happens in the next few days.”
Heatherly’s first major aim this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the $500,000 Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) back at the Valley on September 30.
Three of the past four Moir Stakes winners were mares including most recently Samaready (2013).
The other was former champion of the turf Black Caviar who went back-to-back in 2010-11.
Heatherly geared up for her spring return with a nice jump-out at Flemington last Friday and Zahra said they were excited to get the Group 1 placegetter back to the races.
“She’s in great order, we gave a nice trial on Friday and got her into a nice rhythm and it’s exciting to have her back at the races,” he said.
“There’s plenty of improvement still to come, her coat’s a long way off after three months in the paddock and being a long spring she’s not screwed right down yet.
“I think she looks a lot rounder and stronger this time around and she learned a lot last preparation and the great thing is she’s had three months off heading into the spring and all of her niggling problems have gone.”
If the mare does run in the Carlyon Stakes field Zahra said she would be ridden to suit the pace and not forced to set just off the leader like in her two final runs as a three-year-old.
“Those plans are out the gate, you’ve just got to let her roll and get her into a nice rhythm and breathing and you can see that she’s got a great cruising speed and can find you a length or two lengths from the front,” he said.
“Horses that can run sectionals like her are always going to be hard to beat.”
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