Wanless homebred Lights up Brisbane

Queensland owner-breeder Judi Wanless can’t believe the turnaround by Lights of Heaven after such a disappointing spring carnival last year.

Lights of Heaven (4m Zabeel – I’m In Heaven by Volksraad) was the star turn in staying events at the winter carnival.  She was runner-up in the G2 Hollandale Cup and G1 Doomben Cup before claiming the G2 Eagle Farm Cup and G2 Brisbane Cup.

“She’s all grown up now and isn’t a filly anymore,” Wanless said.  “She’s a top class mare.”

Lights of Heaven (NZ) was the most improved horse in training as an autumn three year-old winning the G1 SAJC Australasian Oaks at just her fourth start.  But the Peter Moody trained mare ran well below-par as a spring four year-old.  The best she could manage in five starts were placings behind Whobegotyou (G2 Lawrence Stakes) and Descarado (G1 Caulfield Stakes).

“I am absolutely wrapped that she has done so well here in Queensland,” Wanless said.  “It’s right on our doorstep and she’s going to stay here for a spell as the weather is pretty miserable in Melbourne.

“She will have three weeks in the paddock and do some light work up here before she goes back to Peter in August.  By then, he will have mapped out a programme for her for the spring.”

Queensland may be home to Judi now, but as an ex-pat New Zealander she mainly breeds and raises her horses back home.  Growing up in the Coromandel, she went to college in Papakura before heading to Australia where she met and married Ron Wanless.

A successful polo player and speedway driver, Wanless hails from a family associated with harness racing.

Lights of Heaven is a homebred for the couple.  Judi bought her dam I’m In Heaven as a yearling and raced her in Australia before retiring the mare to Trelawney Stud in Cambridge.

“I think the environment in New Zealand is better for the mares and foals, and being able to raise horses at a place with a history like Trelawney, what could be better?  And I’m so lucky to have people like Brent and Cherry Taylor to help make it happen.”

I’m in Heaven (NZ) won six races in Australia and she is a sister to G3 Highview Stakes winner Eloa.  Their dam Cent From Heaven (Centaine) is a sister to G2 Ellerslie winner Perfect World and the dam of G1 winner Alamosa.

I’m in Heaven has also foaled Queensland winner Stellafire (Testa Rosa) and her two year-old filly Zoria (Darci Brahma) was a good thing beaten when runner-up on debut at Bendigo last month.

The Savabeel – I’m in Heaven yearling filly was passed in at the Karaka Premier Sale earlier this year but Wanless was happy to keep her.  She has been broken in and will have her early education in New Zealand before joining Moody’s stable as an early three-year-old.

I’m In Heaven missed to Zabeel last season but has a strapping weanling colt by Mastercraftsman for the sales next year.

“Judi is a big fan of Zabeel and she does have another promising two-year-old by him called Honeymoon,” Brent Taylor said.  “She is going to race over here with Roger James and isn’t far away from trialling.”

Wanless has four mares boarding at Trelawney and they have all left stakes winners – I’m In Heaven (Volksraad), Cuphill (Danehill), Disco Girl (Marauding) and My Funny Face (Marscay).