By Ray Hickson
Trainer Tim Martin has been careful not to over complicate Heavens Above’s path to Rosehill on Saturday as she attempts to be the first mare to successfully defend their Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) crown.
Since the race was elevated to Group 1 in 1986 only five horses have backed up a year after winning and none were placed.
They are Eskimo Queen (won 2008, 15th in 2009), Regal Cheer (won 2006, 6th in 2007), Quicksilver Cindy (won 1991, 12th in 1992), Happy Sailing (won 1990, 14th in 1991) and Red Express (won 1989, 5th in 1990).
The great Sunline remains the only dual winner having scored in 2000 and 2002, carrying 60kg to both wins.
Heavens Above won the Coolmore second-up from a spell last year having finished ninth, beaten 4.9 lengths, in the Millie Fox behind In Her Time.
Martin deliberately used the same race to prepare the five-year-old in 2018 and she finished an eye-catching sixth, beaten 1.9 lengths by Daysee Doom.
“I thought it was a very good run,’’ Martin said.
“She's had a similar preparation to last year, the one run into it, and I couldn't be happier.
“The spring was a bit of a disaster, I had in the back of my mind to train her for the Caulfield Cup. So I think you can forget the spring and she's on target for the Coolmore.’’
Punters Intel data illustrates Heavens Above’s first-up performance well – she produced the second fastest last 600m of 33.29 and the fastest final 200m of 11.34.
Martin has also recalled jockey Tye Angland, who won on Heavens Above last year on a soft track, for Saturday. Angland also won the 2010 edition on Alverta.
And, to complete a re-writing of the script Martin is hoping for some autumn rain.
“I wanted to keep her fresh and take it nice and easy on her. She doesn't cope with a lot of work and that's why I space her runs,’’ he said.
“I think she's spot on. I'd love a bit of rain so she can get her toe into the ground.
Watch for Heavens Above finishing strongly late in the Millie Fox at Rosehill on February 24
“She needs a bit of pressure up front, a bit of tempo, if they go easy it makes it hard for her. If she can get a good run up behind them she's definitely in the race.’’
Heavens Above carried 55kg last year and rises to 56.5kg with Foxplay allotted top weight of 58kg. She opened $17 in TAB’s All-in market on Monday.
Martin said he may give Heavens Above her chance in the Doncaster next month, with 51.5kg, though believes the Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) on Day 2 of The Championships would be ideal.
He’s also tossing up a Brisbane winter campaign but said it’s also likely she’ll be retired to stud later this year.
“How she performs in the Coolmore and the Queen Of The Turf (Coolmore Legacy) determines her racing career,’’ he said.