John Thompson’s last start Tea Rose Stakes winner First Seal is the headline early entry for Saturday’s Flight Stakes 2014 at Royal Randwick’s Epsom Handicap Day.
The three-year-old fillies’ feature attracted just eight hopefuls and so Racing NSW has extended the nominations for this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) until 11am on Tuesday.
Of the eight already in contention, First Seal is the likely favourite through Ladbrokes.com.au after the daughter of Fastnet Rock won the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) in an upset at the track on September 20.
In that race was also Blue Diamond winning filly Earthquake at a short quote to win, but she could only manage to run third to the upset winner First Seal.
First Seal is looking to become the first Group 1 winner down under for connections China Horse Club, Thompson confident that could happen after her Tea Rose performance.
“The win the other day was very strong,” Thompson told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’m not going to say she is better than before the Tea Rose but she certainly hasn’t lost anything.
“I think it is going to be a very interesting race because I have a lot of respect for Winx and there wasn’t that much between them the last time.”
Looking to turn the tables on First Seal in the Flight Stakes, the Chris Waller-trained Winx comes off a second in the Tea Rose which has produced eight of the past 10 Flight Stakes winners.
In that time four fillies have completed the Tea Rose – Flight Stakes double with Streama (2011), More Joyous (2009), Samantha Miss (2008) who completed the Princess series quadrella six years ago and Cheeky Choice (2006) with the race not run in 2007 due to the equine influenza outbreak.
Gai Waterhouse meanwhile has three Flight Stakes nominees in Echo Gal and Twirl who both ran second in their lead-up runs like Winx, along with Muscovado.
Stratum filly Echo Gal won back-to-back Canterbury races earlier this campaign before she was found out in better company at Rosehill on September 13 finishing a distant 11th to Catkins in the Group 3 Sheraco Stakes (1200m).
She improved on that then against easier company in the Listed Heritage Stakes (1100m) at Randwick the following weekend.
Stablemate Twirl meanwhile hasn’t raced since a second to Lady Sharapova at Canterbury on August 6.
She is a multiple Group placegetter from the autumn however and won a 1050m Randwick trial with Tommy Berry aboard by nearly four lengths on September 19.
That hit out should have her ready for this weekend’s race at a track she’s finished second at in both her previous runs including behind Believe Yourself in the Group 2 Sweet Embrace Stakes back in mid-March.
Waterhouse’s third hope Muscovado has also impressed with consistent form this season including a feature win at Wyong on September 5 and her last start third to Abduction in the Listed Reginald Allen Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill this Saturday gone.
Along with First Seal the other last start winner nominated for the Flight Stakes this year is then the undefeated Peter Moody-trained Thinking Of You.
The New Zealand-bred Thorn Park filly has won both of her starts so far, most recently over 1400m at Caulfield on September 20.
Rounding out the Flight Stakes nominations are then Tea Rose sixth placegetter Lady Sharapova and Press Report coming off a seventh in the Group 1 Golden Rose.
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2014 Flight Stakes Nominations
Royal Randwick – 04/10/2014
|1||ECHO GAL||Gai Waterhouse||78|
|2||FIRST SEAL||John P Thompson||91|
|3||LADY SHARAPOVA||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||74|
|5||PRESS REPORT||Lee Curtis||75|
|6||THINKING OF YOU (NZ)||Peter G Moody||70|