Talented Justify (USA) filly Learning to Fly was a short priced favourite to keep her unbeaten record intact in the $300,000 Group II ATC Reisling Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday, but the Annabel Neasham trained filly was made to work hard for it.
Facing just three rivals, Learning to Fly kicked up from her inside gate under Chad Schofield to hold Trapeze Artist filly Facile off the fence and the two waged war at the front for much of the race.
Learning to Fly gave everything under pressure and needed to as Facile would not go away and there was just a short half head between the pair at the finish with the daughter if Justify taking her record to three wins in as many starts with prizemoney of $1.4million.
Annabel Neasham admitted to a feeling of relief when Learning to Fly got the verdict.
“I was a bit nervous watching that first 100m, I thought Facile was going to cross, the worst place we wanted to be was locked away. Just had to keep nudging up and I think they’ve run pretty quick time the first half,” she said.
“Chad (Schofield) just said she was very relaxed in front, I don’t think it’s necessarily her preferred place. We saw a little bit in the Widden when she hit the front she was a bit green, but she’s added another string to her bow being able to (lead).”
Facile was fifth at her previous run in the Inglis Millennium behind Learning to Fly when beaten a length and a half and is clearly on the improve.
“Facile is a really good filly. I know she hasn’t won, but she was very good last week. She’s rock hard fit so when she was coming to us I thought we’d have to be brave to keep our nose in front and she did just that,” Neasham added.
Chad Scofield was full of praise for Learning to Fly in what evolved into a very tactical race.
“Small field is always complicated but I didn’t really want to lead just because of the nature of this filly, she’s very laid back and with nothing to chase down she’s quite lazy. If I didn’t lead I was going to be in the box seat and that’s the last place I wanted to be in a small field, so we kicked up and held the lead,” said Schofield.
“She relaxed well and she always just had a nose on Facile (second horse) and she was never going to win by a big margin, but luckily she did enough to win.”
Learning to Fly was a $900,000 Inglis Easter purchase for Kia Ora Stud from the Coolmore draft and runs for a partnership involving both Kia Ora and Coolmore.
Learning to Fly was foaled and raised at Coolmore and is the second foal and first winner from Fastnet Rock’s Group III winning daughter Ennis Hill, who was named by James Bester after British athlete Jessica Ennis Hill, winner of the gold medal in Heptathlon at the London Olympic Games.
Ennis Hill is a sister to Lake Geneva, who won the Listed MVRC William Crockett Stakes and placed in the Golden Slipper and Blue Diamond as well as Acrobat, who won the Inglis Nursery (RL) at his only start.
Acrobat retired to stand his first season at Coolmore last spring and covered 188 mares.
Ennis Hill has a Pierro filly in the Coolmore Stud draft at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. (lot 117).
Ennis Hill has an I Am Invincible filly to follow and was covered by Snitzel last spring.
Story courtesy of Breednet