Co-trainer Simon Zahra knows the stable’s promising mare Heatherly needs to learn how to behave in the barriers and get away with a clean jump if she is to match up to the star sprinters next start in the Moir Stakes 2016.
The four-year-old daughter of Lonhro cost herself another Group 2 win last start at Moonee Valley when she missed the jump in the McEwen Stakes (1000m) after getting her head to the side of the gates pre-race.
She eventually ran only 1.1 lengths away third in a blanket finish as the beaten favourite behind Wild Rain after racing wide throughout, but should have been first past the post according to Zahra who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton.
First-up Heatherly won the Listed Norman Carlyon Stakes (1000m) over the same track / distance, her fifth career success to date.
Her other most notable victory was at Caulfield in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) when flying home under only 51kg to defeat Politeness by 5.5 lengths.
She then raced in elite level company for the first time when under a length away third to Flamberge in Caulfield’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) during the autumn.
The team are eyeing another top level run next-up under the lights at the Valley on Friday September 30 in the $500,000 Group 1 City Jeep Moir Stakes (1000m).
That will be her third 1000m Moonee Valley run on the trot this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, but in it she will be up against her toughest competition to date.
The Moir Stakes field is set to attract the likes of Team Hawkes’ international Group 1 winner Chautauqua, Mick Price’s Blue Diamond champion this autumn Extreme Choice, dual Moir Stakes champ Buffering (2012 and 2014) and another multiple elite level winner Lucky Hussler.
Mares have a strong recent record in the Moir Stakes results with three wins in the past five years, most recently the Price-trained Samaready (2013) who won as four-year-old.
Heatherly was put through her paces in anticipation of Friday week’s test with a Flemington jumpout this Friday morning with regular rider Damian Lane aboard, where she was again awkward out of the barriers.
“She just played up a little in the gates, missed the start again but then got back and hit the line nicely,” Zahra said of Heatherly’s antics speaking to Racing Victoria.
“She went out there to have a bit of a hit-out so we don’t have to do much with her now and next start.
“Damian said she had her head cocked to the side and wasn’t quite ready.
“It is a bit frustrating, especially when you are going to take on the better horses in the coming months, we will see if we can do more work with her.
“When you are running over 1100m or 1000m, it is definitely concerning.
“You don’t want to be taking away your advantage when you’ve got a good cruising speed and can break fields up.
“You are then having to use that to just catch up to them, it is concerning and it has got worse this time around.
“We will play it by ear at the moment and do a little bit more with her next week.”
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