A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Robbie Griffiths’ undefeated young filly Girl In Flight will continue her stunning career start at Caulfield this weekend with her trainer looking to see if she’s got the 2014 Schweppes Oaks potential he hopes she does.
The Commands three-year-old has had two starts for two wins so far, a record she’ll be out to add to in Melbourne this Saturday when she jumps favourite for the $80,000 Leigh Thomas Gift (1700m).
The benchmark 78 handicap, for which Girl In Flight is the current $2.10 top fancy at Ladbrokes.com.au to win, will be her maiden run in the big city.
On debut she put two lengths on her closest rival to win a 1309m three-year-old maidens’ plate at Pakenham on October 29.
Twenty-two days later she went to Sale and posted another two length victory, this time over 1400m in a benchmark 64.
Now she takes on a similar class field of just seven rivals going up to 59.5kg, from 57.5kg last start, and 1700m from 1400m.
It’s a testing assignment and one her Cranbourne-based trainer Griffiths hopes will show her staying potential ahead of the autumn next year.
“She has trained on well since her last start and this is tougher race again but all the indicators are there to suggest she’s the right type of filly to be the one to beat in the race,” he told Racing Victoria this week.
He’s got a high opinion of the $60,000 yearling already but hopes to have an even better one come April when he plans to send her to South Australia for a Group 1 run in the $400,000 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville Racecourse on the 26th.
Griffiths then is looking at Saturday’s Caulfield run as a kind of fact-finding mission to see how she handles the increased distance.
“She’s a nice filly that has done everything perfect so far,” he said.
“I shouldn’t get ahead of myself with those types of plans but if you don’t have aspirations then nothing happens.
“The depth of this race is a long way behind that level but the whole idea of getting her out over 1700 on Saturday is to give her some experience over the extra journey and to give us some data as to whether her performance warrants setting her on a path towards a race like that (Australasian Oaks).”
Griffiths will also be represented in Saturday’s race by Smart Guy ($13) in barrier three, the God’s Own gelding coming off a 2050m win at Benalla from November 10, who he doesn’t think can defeat their better fancied stablemate.
“She’s found the winner’s stall two from two whereas the other guy’s just lobbed there,” he said.
“Girl In Flight can settle in a better position and sprint off a slower tempo whereas he’s got to get back and switch off in his races.
“If he (Smart Guy) can switch off and not have to work early then he might be able to sneak into the placings because he’s fit, he’s strong and he runs further than 1700 metres.
“If she can turn up in as good form as she has shown in her first two starts then you’d have to think that she should go very well.”
If either horse salutes for Griffiths it’s set to be a nice pay day.
On top of the $48,000 first prize around $50,000 in Super VOBIS and VOBIS Gold bonuses are on offer for which both of his horses are qualified to win.
“It’s fantastic prize money,” the triple Super VOBIS Trainer of the Year said.
“To be having a crack at $130,000 in a race where you’re the highest rated (67) horse (Girl In Flight) is a fortunate position to be in, hopefully she can take advantage of her recent form and be the horse to get the job done.”
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