BC Internationals: Turf contender Seventh Heaven

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

October 30th, 2017

As surmised in her international profile for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, Seventh Heaven found 1 1/4 miles a bit too short for her in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Trainer Aidan O’Brien had considered a tilt versus older males in the Turf (G1) before ultimately keeping her in her own division, but now the high-class 1 1/2-mile performer appears set to get her chance – albeit at the end of an injury-blighted season.

Seventh Heaven was in career form last year, her sophomore campaign highlighted by a classic victory in the Irish Oaks (G1) and a defeat of a short-on-fitness Found and a non-staying Queen’s Trust in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). Shortening up at Santa Anita, the daughter of Galileo was outpaced by Queen’s Trust, Lady Eli, and Avenge, but stayed on dourly in fourth.

Her 2017 campaign began brimming with promise. First sighted in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on World Cup night, she was a fine second to Jack Hobbs, handling the rain-softened ground more effectively than trailing Highland Reel.

Seventh Heaven then reveled on good-to-firm at Newmarket in the Jockey Club (G2), drubbing the smart One Foot in Heaven by five lengths. That multiple Group 2-winning male had been sixth in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and third to Satono Crown and Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase (G2), and she treated him with disdain.

Now one of the favorites for the Coronation Cup (G1), Seventh Heaven was unfortunately until ruled out by injury. O’Brien said she’d point for the fall, so the setback was substantial enough to know straightaway it was a case of months and not weeks.

Seventh Heaven has run well below form so far in her comeback, but it’s not clear if she’s just not up to it anymore or if the ground is the key factor.

The market vibe was encouraging for her return in the September 10 Blandford (G2), with bettors sending her off as the 100-30 second choice, despite the 1 1/4-mile trip on a bottomless Curragh course. Apparently Seventh Heaven was going well enough at home to suppose she’d do herself justice, but she was never traveling, and Ryan Moore wrapped up on her and eased home last.

Undeterred, O’Brien sent her to the Arc. Little was expected of her as a 50-1 longshot, and she ran up to her odds in 14th of 18.

The obvious question is if Seventh Heaven has gained enough fitness from those efforts to find anywhere near her pre-injury level of form. If she has, the conditions of the Turf would suit her well, but there’s no way to be too confident in advance.

From the straw-grasping department, I’m reminded vaguely of Chicquita, who finished a useful fifth for O’Brien in the 2014 Turf. She too was the previous year’s Irish Oaks winner (when trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre) and also runner-up to Treve in the French Oaks (G1). After missing the first half of 2014, O’Brien got her back in time for the Blandford, where she finished a solid second on good-to-firm. Chicquita likewise took a stab at the Arc, winding up 15th behind Treve, and improved significantly third off the layoff when a wayward third in the British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1) (the Racing Post comment “threw it away” says it all).

Seventh Heaven passed on Champions Day to stay fresh for the Breeders’ Cup. If she takes a similar step forward in this third start back, she can make her presence felt. It’s just a matter of how much you want to take on trust.

Photo courtesy Champions Series via Twitter