Many bloodstock followers believed Smart Missile would sire his first Group I winner this spring with his unbeaten filly Smart Melody favourite for the Group I MRC Thousand Guineas next Saturday, but in the end his supporters didn’t have to wait that long.
Up and coming trainer Mark Newnham tasted his first Group I victory when talented Smart Missile filly Maid of Heaven took a quantum leap to beat quality colts Aramayo and Thinkin’ Big to win the Group I ATC Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
A maiden winner at Canterbury at her second start, Maid of Heaven contested the Group II ATC Tea Rose Stakes and Group I ATC Flight Stakes, finishing a luckless fifth and sixth behind the best fillies of her generation.
Stepped up in trip to 2000 metres for this assignment, she hit the line hard to beat Aramayo and win by along head with Rachel King in the saddle.
It as a Group I first for the trainer, jockey and sire.
“I can’t believe it,” Newnham said.
“Obviously I was involved with plenty of Group I winners during my time with Gai (Waterhouse) but this is something else.”
Jockey Rachel King is another graduate of Waterhouse’s Tulloch Lodge.
The 28-year-old Englishwoman was on a working holiday in Australia when she started riding trackwork at Randwick. King had ridden 27 winners back in her homeland as an amateur on the flat and over the jumps.
Since starting race riding in Australia, King has shot to prominence quickly. She rode her first city winner in May last year and was crowned champion Sydney apprentice in July with 38 winners.
“It’s amazing. A better feeling than I could ever have dreamed, and I’ve dreamed about this day a lot,” King said.
“Mark was at Gai’s when I first started there and he gave me a big push to start riding over here and have a go to give him his first Group I winner is very satisfying.
“He has never stopped supporting me the whole way through. I had my first Group winner for him the Newmarket and now the first Group I, it’s very special.”
Recorded as a $60,000 Inglis Classic purchase for Dean Hawthorne Bloodstock from the Arrowfield draft, Maid of Heaven was bred by Arrowfield and partners and runs in the Arrowfield colours. She is a half-sister to Group III winner Mirrasalo from Group I placed stakes-winning Dehere (USA) mare St Therese.
Now 21, St Therese has a yearling colt by Panzer Division and was covered last spring by Scissor Kick.
Maid of Heaven is the seventh stakes-winner for Smart Missile and is his first Group I winner.
A Group II winning son of Fastnet Rock, Smart Missile started his career with Arrowfield Stud and stood there for six seasons before relocating to Twin Hills Stud this spring where he stands at a fee of $13,200.