It was so nearly a perfect weekend for her family. As it was, Great Heavens instead completed one for her sex. Her success in the Darley Irish Oaks yesterday complemented that of Danedream, who had beaten Nathaniel – a full brother to Great Heavens – by a nostril at Ascot the previous day.
Danedream's success in the Betfair King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes was the first by a filly since Time Charter in 1983; and a first ever for Germany. At the Curragh, in contrast, Great Heavens was maintaining a relentless winning streak for her trainer, John Gosden, and his flourishing stable jockey, William Buick.
Like Nathaniel, the big doubt about Great Heavens had been limited recuperation since her last start, just 15 days previously. But the two siblings obviously share toughness as well as class. Great Heavens came off the bridle in the straight as Shirocco Star attempted a decisive break for home from two furlongs out. But the effort told and she began to hang, hampering the filly who had beaten her at Epsom, Was. Meanwhile Great Heavens was slowly but surely organising a rally, ultimately taking off down the centre of the track to win going away. Princess Highway stayed on at one pace for third, with Was finding no extra in fourth.
Gosden already has two feasible rivals for Camelot in the Ladbrokes St Leger, in Michelangelo and Shantaram, and this filly's stamina makes her look an eligible candidate, too. The sponsors quote her at 6-1. Gosden, who has won the last two runnings of the Doncaster Classic, indicated she may take in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks first. "There's no reason a filly of her class couldn't do something like that," he said. "Someone has to take on Camelot. She showed a lot of class and courage today. The ground is very holding, and it's not easy to pick up on that. I'd nearly given up hope at the two-furlong marker. She had to be asked a really big question in the last furlong and opened up three lengths on the field, so I think it says a lot about her. She has actually put weight on between her races."
You had to feel sympathy for Seamie Heffernan, who gave Was such a good ride at Epsom but was here relegated to the Ballydoyle pacemaker. The No 1 jockey at the stable is the teenaged son of the trainer there. You have to wonder how indulgent Aidan O'Brien might have been, however, had certain previous incumbents in the post ridden St Nicholas Abbey quite as has young Joseph of late. For the third time in four starts since their historic success at the Breeders' Cup, St Nicholas Abbey was set plenty to do when third to Danedream on Saturday. But both father and son took the view that the horse was ill suited by conditions.
Connections of Dunaden were candid in their dismay over contrasting tactics by Craig Williams on the Melbourne Cup winner, who needs covering up but was exposed from an early stage. Dunaden is now likely to be freshened up for the Arc. Danedream herself is now guaranteed due respect when she returns to Longchamp in the autumn as defending champion.
There was another British success overseas yesterday when Reckless Abandon, winner of the Norfolk Stakes, followed up in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte. Trainer Clive Cox will take him back to France for the Prix Morny at Deauville.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Zain Spirit (3.45 Southwell)
Has a very good dirt pedigree and should relish the switch to this surface after shaping with plenty of promise on his debut at Kempton.
Next Best: Monzino (4.20 Southwell)
Another with American genes, and duly transformed by Fibresand when making his handicap debut last week. Extra furlong looked sure to suit that day.
Where The Money's Going: After stepping up a gear over recent days, Richard Hughes is 6-4 from 7-4 for the jockeys' championship with William Hill.