First Australian Stakes-Winner for Justify
She is his first Australian winner and his first Australian stakes-winner - exciting filly Learning to Fly (2f Justify x Ennis Hill, by Fastnet Rock) made an eye-catching winning debut in the Group III ATC Widden Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Ridden by Chad Schofield for Annabel Neasham, Learning to Fly raced outside the leader Perfect Proposal and when asked for an effort, she found an instant response.
After dropping Perfect Proposal, Learning to Fly was attacked by the well-supported Steel City (2f Merchant Navy x Pittsburgh Flyer, by Street Boss) and had to dig deep to hold off that filly to win by a half a length.
Annabel Neasham was thrilled that Learning to Fly had delivered on the promise she had shown in recent barrier trials.
“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 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.
“We’ve always had a really good opinion of her, but you never know quite how good they are until you see them come and do it in the afternoon. We think she is quite special. To do it in the Coolmore colours is very exciting, and Kia Ora as well an important ownership group. Grateful for their support with such a valuable filly,” said Neasham.
“She is an Inglis horse, so we could go to the Millennium in a fortnight. Obviously, the Golden Slipper is the real aim and that will be her Grand Final. We’ll get her home, see how she is and talk to the team.”
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, 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.
Acrobat won the Inglis Nursery (RL) at his only start before retiring to Coolmore, where he covered 188 mares in his first season last spring.
Learning to Fly is the seventh stakes-winner worldwide for Justify, who shuttled to Australia for three seasons and the champion son of Scat Daddy has 12 catalogued for Easter, nine at the Inglis Classic, and 11 at the Inglis Premier.