05/25/2008 11:00PM

Halfway to Heaven caps huge weekend for O'Brien


Halfway to Heaven capped a group-race triple for Aidan O'Brien at the Curragh on Sunday when she outgamed Mad About You and Carribean Sunset in the $631,000 Irish 1000 Guineas.

The weekend was a triumph for O'Brien, as he had also won the Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday with Henrythenavigator, who was made the 5-1 co-favorite with Curtain Call by Ladbrokes for the Epsom Derby after owner John Magnier said that the Derby was the race for him.

Ridden by Jamie Heffernan, the 6-1 Halfway to Heaven gave O'Brien his fourth victory in the one-mile Irish fillies classic. It was also the third time he had won both Irish Guineas in the same year, having turned the trick with Desert King and Classic Park in 1997 and Black Minnaloushe and Imagine in 2001.

Third last time to Zarkava in the French 1000 Guineas, Halfway to Heaven led more than 2 1/2 furlongs from the line and held gamely to defeat the Dermot Weld-trained Mad About You by a head with Carribean Sunset, a two-time Group 3 winner, third, just a neck farther back. The 3-1 favorite, Nahoodh, was a one-paced seventh, 12 lengths behind the winner. Having clocked the mile in 1:40.82 on firm ground, Halfway to Heaven is likely to take her chance in the one-mile Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20.

On the same card, O'Brien saddled Duke of Marmalade to an odds-on victory in the 1 5/16-mile Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, and the 3-2 Hebridean to win the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Gallinule Stakes.