Flight Stakes at Sydney Spring

Flight Stakes at Sydney Spring

                                   by Bernard Kenny

Everest Ambassador Katelyn Mallyon on Mr Bean

It’s the Sydney Spring Racing and the Everest Carnival with the $500,000 Gr1 Darley Flight Stakes of 1600m for 3yo fillies at set-weights taking pride of place on TAB Epsom Day at Royal Randwick.

The Darley Flight Stakes also concludes the Darley Princess Series with the winning filly’s breeder receiving a free 2019 or 2020 nomination to Darley stallion Kementari. The Anthony Cummings trained Libertini is now in command to take the Princess Series having won the first two legs.

Libertini took out the Darley Silver Shadow Stakes and received a free nomination to the world champion sprinter Harry Angel for her owner-breeder Gerry Harvey. A second service to multiple Group 1 European miler Ribchester was received for winning the Furious Stakes.

However, is was the Chris Waller trained Funstar who gained the upper-hand of Libertini in the Series third leg, the Tea Rose Stakes of 1400m, in a length of the straight battle, only to have the New Zealand visitor Probabeel edge-out Libertini for second in a ‘nose x nose’ finish.

Funstar also received a free service to duel Gr1 winner Impending for winning the Tea Rose, and now heads to the Princess Series finale as favourite to take out the Flight Stakes on Saturday 5 October.

Named in honour of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame mare Flight, who owned by the later AJC Chairman Sir Brian Crowley and trained at Randwick by Frank Nowland, she won 24 races including the WS Cox Plate in 1945, 1946 and the Adrian Knox Stakes.

Purchased for 60 guineas at the Inglis Sydney Yearling Sale in 1942 by Brian Crowley, Flight was by the Heroic sire Royal Step and a half-sister to the 1940 Dunedin Cup winner Sparkle. Her only daughter, Flight’s Daughter produce the Golden Slipper Stakes and AJC Derby winner Skyline and full-brother Sky High to win the Golden Slipper and VRC Derby, both by Star Kingdom.

After only four seasons at stud Brian Crowley sold Sky High to American interests where he forged a successful stud career at Claiborne Stud, Kentucky with Autobiography becoming US Handicap Horse of The Year in 1972 and 1973.
First run in 1947 over 1 mile the Flight Stakes was a lean-in to the then Adrian Knox Oaks Stakes, now the ATC Australian Oaks run in the autumn. In 1972 the race distance was altered to 1600m, becoming a Group 2 event from 1979 and upgraded to Group 1 status in 1985.

Last year’s winner Oohood has been retired to stud and will be mated to Fastnet Rock this season at Colmore Stud. Although the Flight Stakes was her only victory, Oohood was placed in four Group 1 events including second in Estijaab’s Golden Slipper Stakes.

Randwick trainer James Cummings will also have his 2017 Flight Stakes winner Alizee aiming for the $7.5m Golden Eagle, following her recent good third in the weight-for-age Memsie Stakes, having previously won the Missile Stakes at Rosehill.

After her victory in the Flight Stakes when ridden by Glyn Schofield, Alizee went onto be Equal Leading Older Female on the 2018 WTR Sprint having capture the Queen of The Turf Stakes, Futurity Stakes, Expressway Stales and Light Fingers Stakes.

In being a strong contender for Godolphin’s The Everest slot, Alizee is home-bred being by the Golden Slipper and Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Sepoy. A half-sister to the Golden Rose winner and sire Astern, she is from the winning Exceed And Excel mare Essaouira.

Also with strong connections to Sepoy is the 2013 Flight Stakes winner Guelph who went onto the win the Thousand Guineas having previously won the Randwick Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes at two.

A daughter of Exceed and Excel, Guelph is a half-sister to the dam of Golden Rose winner Bivouac, who is also by Exceed And Excel, and a previous winner of the Run To The Rose, Vain Stakes and Kindergarten Stakes.

Since 2000 the Gai Waterhouse trained and John Singleton owned More Joyous has been a stand-out Flight Stakes winner in being crowned Australian Middle Distance Champion of 2012 in winning 21 races and $4.49m in stakes.

Twice winner of the Queen of the Turf Stakes, and the Doncaster Handicap and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, More Joyous is by the highly credential sire More Than Ready, from the Sunday Silence sired Australian Oaks winner Sunday Joy.

In 2011 the Guy Walter trained Streama captured the Flight Stakes before going onto win the Australian Oaks in the following autumn. She then captured the George Main Stakes, Doomben Cup, Hollindale Stakes and Tristarc Stakes.

The Redoute’s Choice filly Samantha Miss won the Flight Stakes in 2008 before taking out the Victoria Oaks, while the Gai Waterhouse trained Ha Ha won the Golden Slipper Stakes at two-years and later won the Flight Stakes at three in 2001.