The most successful Flight Stakes trainer in recent history, Gai Waterhouse has four of her smart fillies in the mix for the 2015 edition of the Royal Randwick classic running on Epsom Handicap Day on Saturday.
Since 1983 Waterhouse has saddled-up 24 Flight Stakes runners for seven wins, two seconds and a third and is on track to add to that impressive record this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
One of three Group 1s on the Randwick card this Saturday, the $500,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) attracted just a dozen early entries.
Nominations are extended until 11am (AEST) on Tuesday, with the current list of hopefuls dominated by Waterhouse’s four livewire hopes.
The highest rated of the three-year-old fillies in the mix is the in-form Speak Fondly for Tulloch Lodge, the daughter of Northern Meteor having won two of her past three assignments.
A triple Group 2 winner, her latest victory was a two and three quarter length success in the Furious Stakes over 1200m at Randwick before her second to Exosphere in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) last time out on September 12.
She goes up to 1600m for the first time this weekend on the back of that brave run and if accepted into the field will be looking to become the first Flight Stakes winner to back-up from a Golden Rose run.
Waterhouse’s previous Flight Stakes winners were Assertive Lass (1996), Danglissa (1999), Ha Ha (2001), Lotteria (2004), Fashions Afield (2005), Cheeky Choice (2006) and most recently the mighty More Joyous (2009).
Her other three nominations for this year’s edition of the mile feature are last start Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) fourth placed Sempre Libera, Flamboyant Lass and Kimberley Star.
Stratum filly Flamboyant Lass has won two of her six starts to date and was last seen running second to Alart only last Saturday in the Listed Reginald Alley Quality (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Kimberley Star is also in top form with a host of top three runs leading into the Group 1 including a second to Speak Fondly in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m), third to Metallic Crown in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) and last start third in the Tea Rose.
The Tea Rose Stakes is historically the premier lead-up race for the Flight Stakes producing 26 winners since 193 including the past four on the trot.
The last two years have seen the Peter Snowden-trained Guelph (2013) and the John Thompson-trained First Seal (2014) complete the Tea Rose Stakes – Flight Stakes double as the race favourites for the Group 1.
Favourites then have an imposing Flight Stakes record in the past 10 years with five wins for a 50% strike rate for the punters.
This year’s Tea Rose Stakes winner after the coveted double again is the lightly-raced John O’Shea-trained Pearls.
The daughter of Exceed And Excel has had just the three runs to date for two wins and the sole black-type run when she took out the Tea Rose on a Soft (7) track by a quarter length over Honesta.
Honesta is also nominated for the Flight Stakes rematch after narrowly going down in the Tea Rose on the back of two mile wins at Doomben in Brisbane and is sure to relish the step back up to 1600m on Saturday.
The grey Monaco Consul filly represents last year’s winning trainer Thompson who has just the one entry as he looks to go back-to-back as a trainer for the first time since Waterhouse three on the trot from 2004 – 2006.
See below for the latest Flight Stakes 2015 nominations with the final field out on Wednesday.
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2015 Flight Stakes Nominations
Randwick Racecourse – 03/10/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trianer||Hcp. Rating|
|1||3x130x12||FLAMBOYANT LASS||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||79|
|2||37×3137||GONE TO PARIS||F||3||Paul Perry||65|
|3||8×42112||HONESTA||F||3||John P Thompson||80|
|4||2×43111233||KIMBERLEY STAR||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||84|
|5||054×563||LAUREN’S MAGIC||F||3||Gary Nickson||–|
|6||123||OCEAN TEMPEST||F||3||James Cummings||71|
|10||2145×4||SEMPRE LIBERA||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||80|
|11||3×16||SOFIA ROSA (NZ)||F||3||Stephen Marsh||67|
|12||3x210x112||SPEAK FONDLY||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||100|