Best On Breeding

Mark Smith - Friday March 1

The remarkable rise of Justify (USA) enters another phase on Saturday with two chances to add a first Australian Group 1 winner to those garnered in Europe and America.

Last season, Coolmore Stud’s Triple Crown winner sired the Champion 2YO Colt in Europe, City Of Troy, and the Champion 2YO Filly in Europe, Opera Singer.

The son of Scat Daddy also had the Champion 2YO Filly in the USA of 2023, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Frizette Stakes heroine, Just FYI.

An extraordinary feat, indeed.

Learning To Fly - Chad Schofield (image Steve Hart)

Then add Hard To Justify, Aspen Grove and Arabian Lion, who have all reached the pinnacle in America.

On Saturday, Learning To Fly and Verdad will battle to become the first Australian Group 1 winner for Justify (USA). At the same time, Storm Boy takes another step toward his date with destiny in the Golden Slipper in the Group II Skyline Stakes at Randwick,  and Scentify chases the $1,000,000 pot of gold in the Inglis Sprint at Flemington.

Verdad looks a solid each-way chance in the Group 1 Howden Australian Guineas (1600m) in a market dominated by Riff Rocket, the son of another Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (USA).

The Annabel Neashan-trained Learning To Fly continues her comeback when she lines up with a favourites chance in the Group 1 Drinkwise Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.

Many of us feared the worst when she crashed to the turf in last year’s Golden Slipper, and for the longest time, it looked more like a battle for survival than the prospect of racing again.

After three promising barrier trials, Learning To Fly showed she had made a complete physical and mental recovery with a typically gritty performance when edged out by Kimochi in the Group II Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 17.

Sporting the same navy colours as the winner, Shinzo, Learning To Fly was undefeated in three runs, which were all earned in fighting fashion, beginning with the Group III Widden Stakes, the $2 million Inglis Millennium (RL), and the Group II Reisling Stakes.

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.

Foaled and raised at Coolmore, Learning To Fly is the second foal and first winner from Fastnet Rock’s Group III winning daughter Ennis Hill.

Learning To Fly a $900,000 Inglis Easter yearling

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 and now stands alongside his sire Fastnet Rock, and Justify (USA) at Coolmore where he covered 188 mares in his first season and 178 in his second last spring.

Annabel Neasham trains Ennis Hill’s 2-year-old Pierro filly named Pretty, which Coolmore sold at Inglis Easter last year for $1.75million to Mick Wallace / Gandharvi.

Justify (image Coolmore Stud)

Back in foal to Justify (USA), Ennis Hill has a yearling filly by I Am Invincible and had a filly foal last year by Snitzel.

Coolmore consigns a Snitzel half-sister to Ennis Hill, Lake Geneva and Acrobat to the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. Among the prized lots of an exceptional catalogue, the Snitzel filly is the ninth foal, and first in three years, for the Group II Reisling Stakes winner Hips Don’t Lie (Stravinsky). 

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