The stunning run of form being enjoyed by trainer, John Gosden, and jockey, William Buick, continued in Ireland on Sunday, as the supplemented Great Heavens cosily justified favouritism in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh, accounting for fellow British raider, Shiroccco Star, by three lengths, writes Elliot Slater.
Victory for Lady Rothschild’s filly was swift compensation for the nose defeat of Great Heavens’ full brother, Nathaniel, who, 24 hours earlier, lost out in the very last stride of a sensational King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot to the outstanding German filly Danedream.
After the agony of that closest of close calls, the relative ease of the daughter of Galileo’s success will have come as a pleasant change to gamblers on betfair.com.
Great Heavens has made tremendous progress this term, having had just one outing as a juvenile when fifth in a Haydock maiden.
After opening her account in heavy ground at Yarmouth in May, when landing an 11-furlong maiden event, Gosden’s charge immediately stepped up in class and did not disappoint when proving more than two lengths too good for Miss Cato in the listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury in June.
Three weeks later, the regally bred filly stepped up again and slammed the useful Shimmering Surf by no less than five lengths in the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks, a performance that encouraged connections to stump up the cash to supplement their rapid improver for the Irish Oaks.
That shrewd decision easily bore fruit, as Buick’s mount overcame a brief anxious moment when seemingly short of room on the inside rail to bound clear and win the classic contest with plenty of authority.
A trip to the Knavesmire and a crack at the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks at the Betfair York Ebor Festival in August could well be next on the cards for Great Heavens, while Gosden also suggested that she may bid for the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster in September and have a crack at the unbeaten triple classic winner Camelot.