Coolmore Success Continues in Blue Square Nassau Stakes 02/08/08
1st 7 Halfway To Heaven 5/1 2F
Glorious Goodwood 2008 just got even better for the Coolmore team as Halfway To Heaven benefited from a superb Johnny Murtagh ride to claim the £200,000 Group One Blue Square Nassau Stakes, to give trainer Aidan O’Brien a 17th Group One success of the year.
Prominent throughout, the three-year-old Pivotal filly dug deep in the final furlong as she just held on from the fast-finishing Lush Lashes to register a head success.
O’Brien was not present, nor were owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Sue Magnier.
Winning jockey Johnny Murtagh said: “I thought it could be a tactical affair. Aidan said to me to do what you think is best, if there isn’t much pace be prominent or if there is a fast pace, drop her in.
“The race went as I thought it would do, there was no pace early on. She travelled beautifully throughout and is a very straightforward filly to ride - nice and steady. At Goodwood, you need to get a position early, during the first two furlongs as you go uphill. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to get a position.
“I had to give her two smacks two furlongs out and she ran on bravely. It was a good finish, with good jockeys around me.
“The horses having been going so well at home and I know Aidan had been pleased with her progress since she won the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
“She liked the ground out there today. To be honest, I didn’t see what was going on in behind - I was just concentrating on my filly. All our success is down to the fact that it is a great team effort. Everyone pulls their weight.
“This filly is very genuine and has a big heart. She toughs it out. She just gets a bit lazy when she hits the front and was just coming to the end of her run today.”
Murtagh, riding his seventh Glorious Goodwood winner of the week and 15th Group One of the 2008, said continued: "I did know I was in the right spot. When we jumped off, no-one wanted to go on and I was left in front. So I said OK, I will do my own thing and then Richard Hills (on Muthabara) went past me.
"Richard and I really had the race to ourselves, we were up there, we doddled around the bends and we got into the straight.
"I just wanted to save her for as long as I could. I knew when I let mine go that she was going to extend and then she had to be brave and she was in the end.
"She got every yard of it - she is very brave and very tough. She seems to have come on from the Irish Guineas - she has come on physically and is moving very well now.
"She has won two Group Ones now and has to be special. The ground is a bit loose on top and she just slipped a bit on pulling up.
“I don’t know where she goes next - wherever Aidan tells me!”
BOLGER: “THESE THINGS HAPPEN”
Jim Bolger wasn’t attributing any blame to jockey Kevin Manning after Lush Lashes’ defeat in the Group One Blue Square Nassau Stakes, in which the filly didn’t get the clearest of runs before bursting through inside the final half a furlong to get within a head of winner Halfway To Heaven.
“These things happen. It’s not really frustrating - that’s horse racing. It’s happened before and it will happen again,” said Bolger.
“We’re in the Yorkshire Oaks, I’ll be having a look at that, she’s in at Leopardstown and Longchamp. She’s already invited to Hong Kong so there’ll be plenty of days yet.
“Alexander Goldrun didn’t lose anything in defeat (when second in 2006) and I’d be happy to have the second again next year!”
Meanwhile, Lord Grimthorpe, Racing Manager to owner Khalid Abdulla, whose Passage Of Time finished a further head back in third, said: “She’s run really well and travelled really well. I think she would have appreciated a better pace, she’s been beaten by two milers, obviously the sprint at the end has paid. But she’s run super.
“There’s two possibilities for her next - either the Yorkshire Oaks or a Group Two (Prix Jean Romanet on August 24) at Deauville at the end of the month. She’s coming back to her best.”
3.15pm BLUE SQUARE NASSAU STAKES (GROUP ONE)
1 HALFWAY TO HEAVEN (IRE) (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith Sue Magnier) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-8-10 Johnny Murtagh  5/1
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