Gai Waterhouse’s in-form Golden Rose runner-up Speak Fondly is one of four three-year-old fillies in the Flight Stakes 2015 field at Royal Randwick this Saturday for her trainer.
Waterhouse boasts an impressive seven wins in the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival classic having prepared previous Flight Stakes winners: Assertive Lass (1996), Danglissa (1999), Ha Ha (2001), Lotteria (204), Fashions Afield (2005), Cheeky Choice (2006) and More Joyous (2009).
This season she’s back with a quartet of final acceptors in the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) that runs as Randwick Race 8 at 4:40pm (AEST) on Epsom Handicap Day this Saturday.
Leading the final field of 11 hopefuls and drawn mid-field in barrier five, which hasn’t produced a winner since Assertive Lass for Waterhouse nearly two decades ago, the Northern Meteor filly comes off a string of good runs this prep.
She won the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) – Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) double at Randwick first and second-up to add to her Group 2 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) victory from March and went into the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) last start on September 12 as a triple Group 2 winner.
She was brave in defeat behind Exosphere in the Golden Rose in her first look at 1400m when second in the classic and returns to her preferred Randwick track (3-2-0-1) this weekend searching for her own Group 1 title.
Waterhouse also has Kimberley Star (9), Flamboyant Lass (4) and Sempre Libera (3) in the mix.
Drawn wide with Brazilian hoop Joao Moreira to ride is the ultra-consistent Kimberley Star who hasn’t finished worse than third in her past seven starts.
After a second in the Silver Shadow behind her stablemate, the Star Witness filly ran a good third only half a length off the winner Metallic Crown in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) in early September before a last start third to Pearls in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) on September 19.
Flamboyant Lass also comes off a black-type placing having run second in the Listed Reginald Allen Quality (1400m) at Rosehill just last Saturday while Sempre Libera, to be ridden by last year’s winning hoop Blake Shinn, ran fourth in the Tea Rose that has produced more Flight Stakes winners than any other race including the past four on the trot.
In the past two years both Guelph (2013) and First Seal (2014) both completed the Tea Rose Stakes – Flight Stakes double that the John O’Shea-trained Pearls will attempt on the weekend.
Drawn in gate seven for James McDonald to ride, the lightly-raced daughter of Exceed and Excel has won two of her three starts with the Tea Rose her first run in stakes’ company.
The other headline hopefuls in the mile showdown on Saturday are Gerald Ryan’s Furious Stakes runner-up Perignon who comes off a Tea Rose fifth she’ll be looking to improve on and the John Thompson-trained Honesta.
Tye Angland retains the ride on grey Monaco Consul filly Honesta who is at her pet distance this weekend having won two of her three previous mile runs and finished second in the other.
She won back-to-back Brisbane races over the distance in August before travelling to Sydney for the Tea Rose where she ran only a quarter length away second as a 19/1 shot for Thompson who prepared last year’s Flight Stakes winner First Seal.
See below for the full Flight Stakes 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights then visit Ladbrokes.com.au for all the weekend’s hottest racing odds and offers including a $700 bonus bet for first time depositing players that quote the code SPRINGBONUS!
2015 Flight Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 8 (4:40pm) – 03/10/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||3x210x112||SPEAK FONDLY||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||5||56kg||100|
|2||2×43111233||KIMBERLEY STAR||Gai Waterhouse||Joao Moreira||9||56kg||84|
|3||41572×25||PERIGNON||Gerald Ryan||Hugh Bowman||6||56kg||84|
|4||8×42112||HONESTA||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||1||56kg||80|
|5||121||PEARLS||John O’Shea||James McDonald||7||56kg||88|
|6||3x130x12||FLAMBOYANT LASS||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||4||56kg||79|
|7||2145×4||SEMPRE LIBERA||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||3||56kg||80|
|8||123||OCEAN TEMPEST||James Cummings||Glyn Schofield||8||56kg||71|
|9||37×3137||GONE TO PARIS||Paul Perry||Zac Purton||10||56kg||65|
|10||3×16||SOFIA ROSA (NZ)||Stephen Marsh||Opie Bosson||11||56kg||67|
|11||054×563||LAUREN’S MAGIC||Gary Nickson||Jeff Penza||2||56kg||–|