The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Champion South African trainer David Payne’s belief in his gun young staying filly Montefilia paid off with the daughter of Kermadec outlasting the odds-on favourite Hungry Heart in an upset 2020 Flight Stakes result.
Payne had been singing his filly praises all week ahead of the Princess Series Grand Final event on Epsom Day, but Montefilia went out a double-figure outsider in betting on the Group 1 $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m).
All the money was pouring in for Chris Waller’s odds-on fancy Hungry Heart, the Frankel filly coming off back-to-back seconds behind Dame Giselle in the Group 2 Furious Stakes and Tea Rose Stakes.
Montefilia also had her Flight Stakes lead-up in the Tea Rose over the 1400m at Randwick on September 19 when running fourth first-up with plenty improvement to come.
“Her last run, she’d just come out of the paddock,” Payne said.
“She was a couple of lengths better today.”
Dame Giselle meanwhile went into the Group 1 mile feature having saluted in all three of the earlier Princess Series lead-up races, but ultimately failed to run out the 1600m.
A little luckless late getting caught up in a pocket, even when she did get clear running Dame Giselle didn’t really finish off and lost her chance to become just the third filly in history to complete the Princess Series whitewash.
Ridden to victory by Hugh Bowman, Montefilia meanwhile was given a beautifully-executed ride by Bowman who had his filly settled off the pace.
The speed was on in the Flight Stakes, Vangelic racing up to lead from Miravalle while Joviality was also fast into stride settled third.
Dame Giselle and Hungry Heart sat just off the front pack, the former on the rails as jockey James McDonald – coming off wins in the opening four races on the card – went up on her outside aboard the short-priced favourite.
The two star fillies raced side-by-side in a real battle for brilliance, while Bowman just bided his time knowing he was on the best filly for the distance.
Approaching the straight, McDonald began to build on Hungry Heart who got into the clear winding up down the outside.
Montefilia however was quickly on the scene and wore down the top elect, eating up the final 50m to charge home and salute in a race record time of 1:33.04.
In the end Montefilia beat home Hungry Heart, while the Flight Stakes trifecta was completed by the pacemaker Vangelic who did well to hold for third.
The Flight Stakes results saw Bowman secure his 97th Group 1 success and he was full of praise for both the filly and her trainer after the victory.
“I’m just so proud of the horse, David had a very high opinion of her, obviously, and the slowly run 1400m where she was just outsprinted, I thought there was a lot of credit in her run, and a little bit more pressure, some cat and mouse between Tommy and James suited,” he said.
“I’m on a horse that is going to benefit over further so I rode her not tactically for the race, more to help her run her best race, and with that tactical battle up front I was rubbing my hands together down the back straight.
“I’m so proud for David. When he finds a good one, he knows how to manage it. I have only won one ATC Derby and it was for David. I’m on a horse that is going to be more comfortable over further distances and it is very exciting.”
Payne confirmed post-race that original plans were to target Montefilia for the Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington in November, but that she would no longer head south having already secured a Group 1 victory.
“Our original plan was the Oaks but when she won that mile, I thought we may as well have a go at the mile. So, we ran in the Tea Rose to get her here. Now that she has won the Group 1 we don’t have to worry about going to Melbourne,” he said.
As for a potential next-up run, Payne said that should she pull up well Montefilia could back-up in the Group 1 $1 million Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) back at the track in seven days’ time.
“Depending on how she pulls up we will back her up next week,” he said.
“Then she will go to the paddock. She’s a laid-back filly, she eats well, so she won’t have to do too much this week. We’ll just see how she is in the next few days. ”
2020 Flight Stakes Results
|Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott
|Peter & Paul Snowden
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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