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Martin Harley Abounding with confidence about winter plans for filly

Thu 16 May 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

International hoop Martin Harley has branded Magic Millions Guineas champion Abounding ‘bigger and stronger’ this preparation ahead of the classy filly’s second-up run this Saturday at Doomben.

Robert Heathcote’s promising three-year-old finished just over a length behind the winner in the Listed Mick Dittman Plate late last month before being held out of last Saturday’s Gold Coast Guineas.

The stable wanted to avoid the wet surface at Caloundra last Saturday and will instead head to a race for her own age group this Saturday on Doomben 10,000 day.

Eagle Farm trainer Heathcote has his eyes on the Fred Best Classic earlier next month with Abounding and Harley believes she has the quality to rise through the grades through the Queensland Racing Carnival.

The 34-year-old Harley has struck up a close bond with the daughter of Rich Enuff and spun her around Doomben on Tuesday morning.

“She was first-up out to 1400 metres at the Gold Coast earlier this year and people were a bit worried about if she could run the trip,” the jockey said.

“In my honest opinion I reckon that is going to be her best trip moving forward. She is so relaxed in the run and you can put her anywhere.

“She has definitely grown and got stronger; her mindset has never changed.

“She keeps things together and has a good head on her shoulders.”

The winner of the 2024 Fred Best Classic will be exempt from the ballot for the feature Stradbroke Handicap later in the carnival.

Abounding holds a nomination for the Group 1 1400 metre event and Heathcote would like to go that way if everything falls into place.

“She is a genuinely classy filly,” Heathcote told Racenet on Tuesday morning at Doomben.

“Martin was delighted with her work.

“We go to 1350 metres second-up on Saturday, so it is still going to be challenging for her.

“We are going into this race on Saturday – which is not her grand final – that is the Fred Best after that, that is the race we are after.”

Harley has been the pilot of Abounding in her last eight public outings and ensured he was there on Tuesday morning for her piece of work on the course proper ahead of her Doomben assignment.

“I was very pleased with that,” he said of her track work.

“I was very happy with the work.

“I am very pleased with her and hopefully she can bang in another couple this prep.”

The Harley and Abounding team have drawn awkwardly in 18 on Saturday.

As of Thursday morning, she is listed as a $13 chance with the bookmakers in Saturday’s 3YO Plate.

Heathcote’s filly handed the Irish hoop his greatest victory so far in Australia in the Magic Millions Guineas earlier this year and he is hopeful she can strike gold again in the winter.

“She obviously steps up to 1350 metres this time second-up this prep,” he said.

“Her fitness is on target for sure and hopefully we can get a dryer track before the weekend. Abounding has been very good to me.”

The well-travelled rider heads to Doomben on Saturday with three rides, all of which come for the Heathcote team.

He also rode stable mate Ekaterina on Tuesday at Doomben.

Like Abounding, Ekaterina will need to handle a sticky gate of 18 in the Bright Shadow for the fillies and mares on Saturday. 

Ekaterina resumed in the Listed Ascot Quality Handicap last month over 1000 metres.

Robbie Dolan rode Ekaterina on that occasion as Harley was in the saddle of the winner – The Big Goodbye – but the Irishman regains the job this Saturday.

The four-year-old Ekaterina is a $31 chance as of Thursday morning.

“She flew through the ground, she does not mind a bit of juice in it,” the international hoop said of Tuesday’s work.

“I was very pleased with her work and she runs over 1110 metres on Saturday.

“It might be a small bit short for her but she will be strong late.”

Harley also rides Outlawed for Heathcote in the Benchmark 78 Handicap over 1350 metres earlier in the program.

He heads to Caloundra on Sunday to ride Perfect Dawn for Chris Anderson at the provincial meeting.