Almost a decade after his last Group One win, trainer Tim Martin has made a welcome return to the big time with Heavens Above sticking her nose out to claim the Coolmore Classic.
The mare got the nod in a three-way photo-finish to Saturday's 1500m-race at Rosehill by a short half head over Silent Sedition with Danish Twist another short head third.
The favourite Omei Sword ($4.40) was never a winning threat and was later found to have bled from both nostrils, incurring an automatic three-month ban.
Heavens Above started at $26 but is a favourite with her trainer who has had to wait since Typhoon Zed's 2008 Manikato Stakes to claim another Group One win.
Once the biggest buyer at the Sydney Easter sale, Martin has been through some lean years and has cut back to 20 horses at his Rosehill stable.
"I've always thought she was a Group One horse. She's the reason I didn't give training away - because of her," he said.
"She has been a very special horse to me and to the owners and really deserves this win."
Martin had feared the mare might be one run short going into the Coolmore but was happy to send her out on the soft track.
"Full credit goes to my staff," he said.
"She was behind the eight-ball coming into the race. I thought she was a run behind but the way the track was playing I knew would suit her from the barrier draw (4)."
The Andrew Noblet-trained Silent Sedition has now racked up two second placings in Group One races, finishing runner-up to Abbey Marie in the Schweppes last May.
Hong Kong-based Sydney jockey Sam Clipperton made the lightning trip to ride the mare but was ruing her barrier 18 of 19.
"It was a gallant effort," he said.
"Unfortunately I didn't have many options from the barrier.
"I must say though once I was there she travelled well.
"She had her ears pricked and got into a great rhythm and fought on gamely.
Apprentice Beau Mertens said Abbey Marie, who finished 16th, was a little flat.
"She travelled quite comfortably but at the 600 metres we were off the bit a long way from home and she just wasn't comfortable around the turn," he said.
New Zealand filly La Bella Diosa, who upset the Sydney fillies in the Group Two Surround Stakes, finished last of the 19 runners, 10 lengths from the winner.
"She was out the back. She never travelled and never looked like coming into it," her jockey Jay Ford said.
Martin said Heavens Above was likely to head to the Doncaster Mile in three weeks rather than the Queen of the Turf in which she finished second to Azkadellia last year.
The TAB has shortened Heavens Above from $51 to $26 for the $3 million Doncaster.
By Caryl Williamson
SYDNEY, March 11 AAP