This is a great success story.
It’s the kind of story that makes the hearts of all racing people shine just a little bit brighter. At Royal Randwick in Sydney April 30, Heavenly Glow charged home from midfield upon straightening to narrowly wear down the visiting Kiwi champion 3-year-old filly Boundless in the group I AJC Oaks over 12 furlongs.
For the Aussies to gain a redemptive victory over the marauding New Zealanders in this race after suffering the embarrassment of losing last Saturday’s AJC Derby to Team NZ, should have been the big story. But it isn’t.
Heavenly Glow (Spinning World--Starsphere) and her country connections are.
It goes like this. In Australia you either race at the city tracks or the bush (country circuits). Heavenly Glow was one of those at the bush track racing each start for $6,000 purses.
Her trainer, Ross Stitt, who has been preparing horses for country racing for over 45 years, knew earlier this year he had finally snared a good one, so he shipped her to the barn of renowned city trainer Allan Denham.
“She isn’t the best traveler and I thought she had improved enough as a 3-year-old and was up to the top grade so I sent her to Allan to train for the big races during the autumn carnival just to see,” Stitt said.
When Heavenly Glow took the prestigious group I Arrowfield Stakes 10 days ago under Denham’s care, it was Stitt’s first group I winner, but this Oaks win has brought tears to the old trainer’s eyes.
“I’d never even had a runner in a group I race until the Arrowfield,” he said. “This is the pinnacle of my involvement in the sport.”
Stitt added that the only stipulation he had when transferring her to Denham was that her regular bush jockey, Robert Thompson, be kept on the horse. And his ride was 10 out of 10 losing nothing against the bigger named boys in the city. Thompson, 49, rode her to win the Arrowfield, which was his debut group I win as a rider.
And Heavenly Glow’s win in the $500,000 Oaks, running down Boundless (Van Nistelrooy--Nothing Less), the former winner group I winner of the New Zealand Oaks after she had skipped clear of the pack under a great Damien Oliver ride, was so full of merit. Staying seems to be her game now, and Heavenly Glow has the racing world at her feet.
Third home was Galileo’s Daughter (Galileo--Donna Dior), who is trained by Anthony Cummings. Her effort was full of merit as it was only her seventh start.
Heavenly Glow has now won eight of 15 starts with three placings for earnings of Aust$665,000 (about $622,000).