The Provincial Championship final was the intended pinnacle for Heavenly Anna this preparation, so the Group Three Dark Jewel Classic is an unexpected bonus for Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker.
A start in a Group race seemed unlikely when the four-year-old finished midfield a month ago but a benchmark 76 win at Randwick on April 22 enabled Heavenly Anna to sneak into the field for Saturday’s 1400m feature for fillies and mares in Scone.
Parker was always aware there were enticing races scheduled for Hawkesbury and Scone after The Championships, but qualifying seemed unrealistic.
“I’d have looked at them had she won the Provincial Championship or raced really well in it,” Parker said.
“You always have high expectations and you hope you can drive that way.”
Parker feared Heavenly Anna may have headed down a dead-end after her eighth of 15 behind Maryore in the Provincial final, where an inside barrier left her on the outer at Randwick.
“She drew two and didn’t get a lot of luck. She likes a little bit of room and she was a little bit of crowded through that race,” Parker explained.
“Then she turned around and won that ratings race quite nicely with a big weight (59.5kg).”
Heavenly Anna drops to 53kg in the Dark Jewel and will start from barrier eight with regular partner Jay Ford.
“She’s a mare that likes a bit of room. She gets to the outside and lets down,” Parker said.
“If there are horses around her she doesn’t seem to let right down. She’ll race between them but won’t go flat out so Jay’s got to get to the outside and give her the last crack at them.”
Heavenly Anna is rated a $35 chance with the TAB, and Parker couldn’t quibble with that assessment.
“She only came into this preparation as a class two horse and now she’s taking on horses that have been running around in Group races all the time,” he said.
“It’s a big step up in grade but once your rating gets a bit high that’s your option.
“You’ve got to attack when they’re in form. She’s raced well this prep and deserves a crack at them.”