The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The Chris Waller-trained Funstar has firmed into odds-on territory in 2019 Flight Stakes betting for this weekend at Royal Randwick.
The in-form daughter of Cox Plate champion Adelaide is one of just six three-year-old fillies accepted for this season’s Group 1 $500,000 Darley Flight Stakes (1600).
The mile clash is the first of three elite levels on the Epsom Handicap Day program in Sydney with Funstar into $1.90 in the Flight Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to salute.
She has won three of her four career starts to date with her only defeat producing a first-up second at Randwick on September 7.
Funstar quickly atoned with a narrow victory in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) defeating the hot favourite Libertini (3rd) in a thrilling photo finish.
She now looks to complete the Tea Rose – Flight Stakes double last achieved by Alizee (2017) jumping from barrier two with the in-form James McDonald in the saddle.
With her quick finish in the Tea Rose Stakes over 1400m, the step-up to a mile should suit Funstar who is also the early Flight Stakes market mover.
Hot on her heels occupying the second line of Flight Stakes betting at $2.15 is then the Tea Rose Stakes runner-up Probabeel.
Drawn gate six with Kerrin McEvoy to ride again, the Jamie Richards-trained Savabeel filly from New Zealand has her fourth Sydney run on the trot.
She had two unplaced runs in the autumn before her first-up fourth in the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) behind Libertini this spring and then the devastatingly close Tea Rose second.
No doubt the Kiwi raider is the danger again here having also produced excellent late sectionals in the lead-up run.
With trainer Anthony Cummings’ shelving Flight Stakes plans with Libertini in favour of keeping her to a shorter distance grand final in Flemington’s Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), Saturday’s race looks a two-filly affair.
The bookies agree with no other runner under $21 to score the upset Flight Stakes result.
Waller remains confident the favourite Funstar can again nudge out Probabeel, though admits his filly could be forced to take up the lead during the race.
“We have talked Funstar up and might have bluffed a few out,” Waller told Racenet this week.
“We haven’t bluffed the hardest one to beat which is Probabeel.
“We are not going to get too worried about it. She [Funstar] will be very hard to beat.
“She has trained on very well. She did a really good piece of work Tuesday which I very rarely ask a horse to do.
“The more I see horses, having them in their comfort zone is the most important thing.
“I am mindful that she over raced a touch last start [in the Tea Rose Stakes].
“We are trying to do the right thing with her so if she lands in front – and I am not going to say that’s what we are doing – but I won’t be panicking. I won’t be saying it’s a disadvantage to be there.”
Waller also said the Flight Stakes was the likely final spring run for Funstar who will be given a similar three-year-old preparation as champion mare Winx.
“I said at the start of the prep that we would likely give her three runs like we did with Winx. At this stage we will stick to it,” he said.
Outside of Funstar and Probabeel the other best fancied is the rails-drawn Foxborough ($21).
Last start Canberra winner Girls Are Ready and Tea Rose eighth placegetter St Covet’s Spirit following at $26 each, while Ron Quinton’s maiden Our Girl Sniti ($41) is the roughie in the Flight Stakes field this year.
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