Trainer Simon Zahra has dismissed any concerns he had about his speedy mare Heatherly drawing the outside barrier in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s Racing Colours McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Heatherly has had a history of being fractious in the starting gates and Zahra said that loading last in the nine horse field will mean that she won’t have to wait very long for the starter to let the field go.
“The only good thing about it is she won’t be in there (the barriers) long,” Zahra, who trains in partnership with Matthew Ellerton, told racing.com.
“She seems to get a little bit fractious in the gates early in her preparations. She was playing up a bit the other day, and was a bit slow away.
“Being in there for a short time should benefit her, she might jump better.
“She seems to miss the kick by half-a-length when she’s in there for a bit of time.
“You’ve got to get her into her groove and get across; they’re not going to hand it to her without her doing that extra bit of work.
“You employ blokes like Damian Lane to do their job, and I’m sure he’s got it all worked out.”
Heatherly resumed from a spell with a half length win in the Listed $120,000 1PRINT Carlyon Stakes on August 20 over the same course and distance as the McEwen Stakes and Zahra said that she has improved several lengths since her first up victory.
“Her work last Saturday was awesome; you can really see the improvement in her,” Zahra said.
“She’s going to have to keep stepping up every time. She’s come up with an ordinary barrier tomorrow so she’ll have to do that bit more work early – with Wild Rain booting up on the inside, it’ll be a real quick tempo.”
Heatherly has developed into a Moonee Valley specialist with three wins and a third from four starts there, all over the 1000m, the same distance at the McEwen Stakes.
Another bold performance from the Lonhro mare will see her line up in the Group 1 $500,000 City Jeep Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 30.
Heatherly is currently a firming $2.40 favourite for the McEwen Stakes after opening at $3.50 when betting commenced at Ladbrokes.com.au on Wednesday when the final field was released.
On the second line of betting is last start John Monash Stakes winner Wild Rain at $5 just ahead of the Lindsay Park trained Sheidel and John O’Shea’s Furnaces at $5.50.
Market order for the McEwen Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.40 Heatherly, $5 Wild Rain, $5.50 Furnaces, Sheidel, $13 Alpha Miss, $14 Reldas, O’Malley, $41 Shakespearean Lass, $67 Iconic.