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Judi Wanless - Breeder and Owner of "Lights of Heaven"

"She's all grown up and not a filly anymore, she's a top class mare." That is the apt description of the group two Brisbane Cup winner Lights of Heaven (Zabeel-I'm In Heaven) according to Judi Wanless.

"I can't believe she has turned her form from the spring right around and done so well over the Queensland Carnival."

Wanless was referring to the mare's somewhat disappointing spring campaign, following on from her group one winning form as an autumn three-year-old. Last year's South Australian Oaks winner was placed in the group one Caulfield Stakes in a spring campaign but has bounced back this autumn with two wins and two placings from five starts.

Prior to her stylish win in the Brisbane Cup (Gr 2), she was an impressive winner in the group two Eagle Farm Cup, on the back of second placings in the two group two events - the Doomben Cup and the Hollandale Handicap. Her first start in this campaign was in Sydney on her way north from her Melbourne base, in the group one Queen of the Turf Stakes, where she finished seventh.

For the Queensland-based Judi Wanless, the victories at the Queensland Carnvial were an added bonus.

"I am absolutely wrapped that she has done so well here in Queensland, right on our doorstep. She is going to stay in Queensland for a spell now, 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's (Moody) stable in August. By then he will have mapped out a programme for her for the spring in Melbourne," she added.

Queensland may be home to Judi now, but as an ex-pat New Zealander she mainly breeds and raises her horses in New Zealand. She grew up in the Coromandel and went to college in Papakura before heading to Australia where she met and married Ron Wanless, a successful polo player and speedway driver from a family associated with harness racing.

A member of the NZTBA, she bred Lights of Heaven from her Volksraad (IRE) mare I'm In Heaven whom she bought as a yearling and raced in Australia before retiring her 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? I am so lucky to have people like Brent and Cherry Taylor to help make it happen," she said.

I'm in Heaven, who is a full sister to the group three Highview Stakes winner Eloa, won six races in Australia. She is a daughter of the stakes placed Centaine (AUS) mare Cent From Heaven, herself a sister to Perfect World (5 wins including the group two ARC City of Sails Trophy) and to Lodore Magic, the dam of the multiple group one winning Alamosa.

Lights of Heaven is her third foal. Her first foal, Stellafire (Testa Rosa[AUS]) is a winner of four races in Queensland. Her fourth foal, Zoria, a filly by Darci Brahma, has been placed at her only start in Victoria.

Her fifth foal, a filly by Savabeel(NZ), was passed in at the Premier Sale, 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.

According to Brent Taylor of Trelawney Stud this system works well for the Wanless fillies.

"Judi leaves her fillies with us, and we get them broken in and educated. They return here to spell, and complete more education until they are ready to race - at that stage they are transferred to Moody's.

"She has some very well bred fillies coming through that she will prove on the race track before adding them to her broodmare band. Judi is a big fan of Zabeel and she does have another promising two-year-old Zabeel filly called Honeymoon that she is actually going to race here.

"That filly is in work with Roger James. She is the last filly out of Bridal Hill (AUS), a stakes winning Unbridled Song (USA) mare that she unfortunately lost. She is not far away from trialling and looks like she will get over a bit of ground."

As well as a nice bunch of fillies at Trelawney, Wanless has four mares there, all of whom have left stakes winners - I'm In Heaven, Cuphill (AUS), Disco Girl (AUS) and My Funny Face (AUS).

"Unfortunately I'm In Heaven missed to Zabeel last season but has a strapping weanling colt by Mastercraftsman (IRE) for the sales next year along with the lovely Pins colt out of Cuphill (Danehill [USA]-Loving Cup [AUS] the dam of Celeris. Judi has kept her yearling filly by Pentire (GB) and she will join her racing team.

"Disco Girl (Marauding – Live it Up[AUS]), who has left the group two Queen of the South Stakes winner Returntosender (Elusive City [USA]) and the stakes placed Pit Lane (Van Nistelrooy [USA]), missed this season but has a lovely O'Reilly weaning filly, while My Funny Face (Marscay-Jamine[USA]) is in foal to a nice early service to the first season sire Rip Van Winkle (IRE). She is the dam of the stakes winners Princess Annaliese (Van Nistelrooy [USA]) and Gondorff (Montjeu [IRE]), her High Chaparral filly sold for $50,000 at Karaka last summer.

"As yet we haven't decided on the matings for the mares this season, but Judi does prefer to go to proven stallions. In a few weeks we will get together and sit down and talk them through. With these proven mares there are lots of options," he concluded.

- Michelle Saba


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