'Heaven' Takes Flight in Sun Chariot

Halfway To Heaven broke alertly and never looked back as she gamely held off a stubborn Darjina to post a half-length victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket Oct. 4.

The win by Halfway To Heaven gave trainer Aidan O’Brien his 21st group I victory this season, pulling him to within four of tying Bobby Frankel’s world-record mark of 25.

Halfway To Heaven was sent immediately to the front by jockey Seamie Heffernan, as Barshiba and Darjina tracked her.  Barshiba gave way with two furlongs left, leaving Halfway To Heaven and Darjina to battle it out for the win.

Darjina, under Richard Hughes, closed gamely within the final furlong, but just could not get past the winner, finishing second by a half-length.  In all six of her starts this year-all group I events-Darjina has finished second. 

Visit, a group III winner trained by Sir Michael Stoute, finished third, one length further back.  Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:35.41 over a course rated good to firm.

O’Brien told reporters after the race, “Seamie gave her a great ride and just dictated it from the front.  Toughness is something she has never lacked.”

“She has had a long old season, so to do this is really a credit to her,” he continued.  “She works twice a week and is so straightforward to look after.”

O’Brien also said, “She might go for the Breeders’ Cup—she’s in the Filly and Mare Turf and the Mile.”

The connections of Darjina had decided beforehand that the Sun Chariot would be the filly’s last career start.  Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said, “She has run very well and there are no excuses—she was given a very good ride.”

Royer-Dupre continued, “We decided before this race that this would be the last one of her career.”

Halfway To Heaven now boasts four wins from eight career starts.  The gray filly is by Pivotal, out of the stakes-winning Indian Ridge mare, Cassandra Go.  She is a half-sister to stakes winner Theann and hails from the female family of Verglas and champion Bandido Secreto.