Learning To Fly First Australian Stakes Winner for Justify
Justify registered a fifth graded stakes winner on Saturday in Australia when Learning to Fly (2f Justify x Ennis Hill, by Fastnet Rock) won the Group III Widden Stakes at Rosehill on debut.
Racing over 5 ½ furlongs on the turf, Learning to Fly took her place outside the leader before Chad Schofield asked her to make her move. She did just that, putting that horse behind her but then had to fight off Merchant Navy’s Steel City to win by half a length.
Trained by Annabel Neasham for Coolmore, Westerberg, Mr. J Poulin, and Kia Ora Stud, the victory came on the back of three impressive trial performances to prepare her for the start.
“I am excited and relieved at the same time. She was brilliant,” Neasham said. “She floated in front, and I thought the other horse was going to get her, but she dug deep first up. To do that, she showed a lot more early speed than I expected. Chad did a great job of getting her in that spot. She is very exciting.”
Learning To Fly was part of Justify’s well-received first Australian crop when selling for A$900,000 at Inglis Easter last season. Looking ahead, Neasham thinks the filly may head to the Inglis Millennium in two weeks but the big date circled on the calendar this term is March 18 – the Group I Golden Slipper.
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. That mare is a sister to Lake Geneva, stakes winner and Coolmore Australia stallion Acrobat, and the stakes-placed Memphis Rock.
Lake Geneva won the Listed MVRC William Crockett Stakes and placed in the Golden Slipper and Blue Diamond.
Ennis Hill also has a 3-year-old American Pharoah gelding and a yearling filly by Pierro.
Justify is the sire of 32 winners in six countries with his seven stakes winners coming in three different countries. That coup includes Grade III Nashua Stakes winner Champions Dream and stakes winner and Grade III Las Virgenes runner Justique.