Big 2017 Lightning Stakes task for comeback mare

Feb 17, 2017

A setback ended Heatherly's spring in its prime but co-trainer Simon Zahra says the mare can maintain her solid Group I record in Saturday's Lightning Stakes at Flemington.

Heatherly will have her first start back from a bleeding attack in the Lightning Stakes. Photo: Darryl Sherer

Heatherly bled when finished second to Extreme Choice in the Group I Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley in the spring with the mandatory three-month ban ending her spring after three runs.

Heatherly also figured in the placings in her only other run in Group I company when third in the Oakleigh Plate last autumn but Zahra said the four-year-old has returned in good order after her bleeding attack.

Zahra said the stable has prepared Heatherly in its normal fashion despite her spring issue and the daughter of Lonhro has responded well in her lead-up to Saturday's $750,000 test, which included a trial win over Lightning Stakes contenders Flying Artie and Illustrious Lad on February 7.

"You just train them normal, treat them how you usually do and then just hope for the best but she has come back super and we can't fault her," Zahra, who trains Heatherly in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said.

"She trialled very well and her work since the trial has been great so she's as ready as she's going to be for a Lightning Stakes."

Corporate bookmaker Sportsbet has Heatherly as an $8.50 chance to notch her maiden Group I win. Zahra said Heatherly has shown she had the ability to score at weight-for-age, especially if she gets a good run near the speed.

"She has beaten some good horses and run time all her life so she's definitely good enough. It's a matter of the opposition on the day," Zahra said.

"You don't want to take away her positives. She can camp on the speed, she's got a good cruising speed and she can quicken.

"If she's good enough she can win."

Damian Lane, who has won four races on Heatherly, will continue his partnership with the speedster on Saturday.

Good luck to loyal stable supporters in Barrie and Midge Griffiths.