Flight Stakes

The Flight Stakes is a $400 000 Group 1 set weights race for three year old fillies. It is run over 1600m at Randwick every October.

It is named after the champion mare of the 1940’s, Flight, who won the Cox Plate in 1945 and 1946. She defeated some of the best horses of the era, including Shannon, Bernborough, Russia, Tranquil Star and Royal Gem.

The Flight Stakes, in her honour, was first run in 1947 when it was won by Nizam’s Ring. In the early years, notable winners included Wenona’s Girl (1960), Reveille (1964) and Cap D’Antibes (1974).

Upon the introduction of the Group system in 1979, it was initially a Group 2 before being elevated to Group 1 status in 1985.

Since then, some top fillies have won this race – the likes of Bounding Away (1986), Research (1988), Triscay (1990), Slight Chance (1992), Angst (1993), Unworldly (2000), Ha Ha (2001), Lotteria (2004), Fashions Afield (2005), Samantha Miss (2008), More Joyous (2009) and Secret Admirer (2010).

Arguably the most famous winner of the race was the Kiwi filly Sunline, who won by three lengths in 1998. She would go on to emulate Flight as a dual Cox Plate winner in 1999 and 2000.

There was a dead heat in 1996, with the judge unable to split Dashing Eagle and Assertive Lass. They would both win at Group 1 level in their own right.

In 2011, the Guy Walter-trained Streama ran out a dominant winner from Hallowell Belle, while Bart Cummings made it 265 Group 1 wins with Norzita in 2012.

By far, the most successful trainer of Flight Stakes winners has been T J Smith, who trained 12 winners between 1962 and 1989. His daughter Gai Waterhouse has trained seven winners to date, the most recent being More Joyous in 2009.

The Flight Stakes is the culmination of the Princess Series of the Sydney autumn, which from 1989 to 2007 offered a bonus if a filly could win all four legs. The Princess Series consists of the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m), the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1400m), the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1600m) and the Flight Stakes.

The only filly to win the bonus was the Noel Mayfield-Smith filly Angst in 1993, while Samantha Miss also won all four legs in 2008 before running third to Maldivian in the Cox Plate.

Naturally, races like the Furious Stakes and the Tea Rose Stakes are ideal lead-up races. Also, some fillies tend to run in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) before the Flight Stakes, while Melbourne fillies can come through the Group 3 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m).

From here, fillies tend to progress to the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield before the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.