Less than twenty four hours after Nathaniel's narrow defeat in defending the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, John Gosden and William Buick were back winning yet another Group 1 with yet another one of their ascending stable stars. Following a similar plan to that hatched prior to Izzi Top's victory raid on the Pretty Polly Stakes, Gosden sent Great Heavens to the Curragh on Sunday with eyes firmly affixed on Group 1 Irish Oaks. With the impressive Royal Ascot Ribblesdale Stakes winner, Princess Highway, and Epsom Oaks victor, Was, standing in her way it was a much tougher task to what she had previously experienced but Gosden's daughter of Galileo executed victory with unexpected final furlong finesse despite multiple moments of concern in the straight.
Settled in third place for the early part of the race, Great Heavens looked to travel well through the early stages on the inside of the Aidan O'Brien trained, Was. However, when angling into the straight, Great Heavens looked to struggle to pick up and missed the opportunity to angle through a gap between Was and Shirroco Star. With Shirroco Star cruising into control at the head of affairs and Princess Highway also passing Great Heavens on the turn, Gosden's filly began to backtrack and found herself vying for last place in the seven runner field under significant amounts of pressure with just two furlongs to go. Heading into the final furlong, Shirroco Star edged right onto the rail causing Was to check up badly yet behind them Great Heavens - who had made minor progress in the following pack - found daylight and began to fly in a last ditch attempt to chase down the leaders. With her eyes on the prize and with a large deficit to erode before victory could be considered, Great Heavens flew in exceptional style towards the winning post and didn't stop motoring down the Curragh straight, readily running away for a three length success in the Irish Oaks.
A daugher of Galileo out of Magnificent Style, Great Heavens is Nathaniel's full sister and has been relishing the rain-softened conditions that a traditional British summer has brought this year. Unable to land a blow as a two year old, Great Heavens returned to the track this year well fancied to land her maiden at Yarmouth on heavy ground. Duly obliging that day by a comfortable three lengths, she pushed on to win a Listed contest next time out at Newbury by a similar margin. Her greatest accomplishment prior to today then came when making light work of a competitive Lancashire Oaks field at Haydock on soft ground readily accounting for The Queen's intriguing Set To Music, Ed Dunlop's Testosterone and Chesire Oaks victor Good Morning Star among others.
"I thought with two furlongs to go she couldn't win but she showed her class in the final furlong" said Gosden who now looks towards an ambitious attempt at dethroning Camelot's surge towards Triple Crown glory in the St Leger on September 15th at Doncaster. With Michaelangelo, Thought Worthy, Sharestan and now Great Heavens all under consideration for the final Classic of the year, it is most certainly Gosden who Camelot now needs to beat to announce himself as the first English Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970. A run in the Yorkshire Oaks on 23rd August at York looks to be the target prior to Great Heavens attempt at making her own piece of history in being the first filly to win the St Leger since User Friendly in 1992.With Urban Sea passing away in 2009, the stage is set for a new super mare to take her place. Nathaniel and Great Heavens continue to enhance the irrepressible reputation of Magnificent Style. Having already produced an American Grand National winner in Percussionist and Playful Act who, sired by Sadler's Wells, is another to come on and win the Lancashire Oaks as well as the Group 1 and Group 2 contests as a two year old, Magnificent Style continues to take dead aim on the vacant throne left behind by the the Tsui family's mare. Victory in the St Leger for Great Heavens could just cement that coronation.