08/01/2008 11:00PM

Halfway to Heaven holds on


You don't win as many big races as Aidan O'Brien does without a little bit of luck sometimes. That is exactly what the master of Ballydoyle received at Goodwood on Saturday when his Halfway to Heaven held on from a luckless Lush Lashes to land the $395,000 Nassau Stakes and give O'Brien his 17th Group 1 victory of the year.

On or near the lead throughout the 1 1/4-mile contest for fillies and mares, Halfway to Heaven assumed command for good at the eighth pole but her rider Johnny Murtagh had to pull out all the stops before reaching the line a head in front of Lush Lashes, who was blocked at the quarter pole and checked at the furlong marker before being angled out by Kevin Manning for a sharp late run that just fell short.

It was a head futher back in third to Passage of Time with Heaven Sent a neck behind that one in fourth. The time over good to firm ground was 2:09.73, an astonishing 6.92 seconds off the track record.

A daughter of Pivotal, Halfway to Heaven had been third in Zarkava's French 1000 Guineas prior to winning the Irish 1000. In this, her first try beyond a mile, she just managed to last the trip, but if the race was run again there is little doubt that Lush Lashes would emerge the winner. The one-mile Group 1 Coronation Stakes winner was flying at the end and clearly relishes 10 furlongs.

Jim Bolger will send Lush Lashes next in either the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks or the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes.

It wasn't all good luck for O'Brien on Saturday as it was announced that Peeping Fawn, the winner of four Group 1 races for Ballydoyle last year, among them the Nassau Stakes, had been retired. A 4-year-old daughter of Danehill, she also won the Irish Oaks, the Pretty Polly Stakes, and the Yorkshire Oaks but never made it back to the races this season.