The Flight Stakes is a Group 1 race for three-year-old fillies run over 1600 metres under set weight conditions for three-year-old fillies. All runners in the race carry 56 kg.
The race has been held at all three Sydney metro courses since it first jumped in 1947, but now resides at Royal Randwick and has since 2012.
Flight Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $750,000
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When Is The Flight Stakes: 1/10/22
What Time Is The Flight Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Flight Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Flight Stakes
The Flight Stakes is run as part of the Sydney spring carnival and the Group 1s Epsom Handicap and The Metropolitan are on the same card, along with the Group 2s Hill Stakes and Premier Stakes.
At last count, prizemoney for the Flight Stakes was $750,000. When Never Been Kissed won in 2021, she took home $430,500. She jumped for $41, so if we had backed her, we would have been kissing her incessantly and the owners would have had to change her name.
She also received, as did the other winners, a ballot exemption for running in the Doncaster Mile.
Never Been Kissed can be seen winning in the race replay at the following link.
History of the Flight Stakes
The Flight Stakes was inaugurated in 1947 during a period of expansion following World War II.
The race is named for Australian Hall of Fame mare Flight that won the Cox Plate in 1945 and 1946. She won plenty of major races in NSW, else the Wise Men of the East would not have named a race for a horse that did all its winning in Victoria.
It was classified as a Principal race until 1979. With the introduction of the Group classification system that year, the Flight Stakes was classified as Group 2 level. The race was lifted to Group 1 status for the 1985 race.
Unlike many races that have changed the trip over the course of their existence, the Flight Stakes has always been 1600 metres, with the small exception being the slight difference between one mile and 1600 metres prior to the adoption of the metric system.
The race has been held at two of Sydney’s metro courses.
It jumped at Royal Randwick from 1947 through 1982. It shifted to Warwick Farm for 1983, went back to Randwick in 1984, and then jumped once more at Warwick Farm for 2001.
It has been at Randwick now since 2002.
Race Venue for the Flight Stakes
Royal Randwick claims to date back to 1833, although at that time it was probably just an open field with some stakes to mark a course.
Randwick is about six kilometres for the Sydney CBD and from the course, it is easy to see the Sydney skyline in the distance, forming a nice backdrop for the racing.
Randwick currently holds 20 Group 1 races every year, but the Race to End All Races is the special conditions The Everest, which is the world’s richest turf race.
It is the venue for The Championships, a two-day meeting run as part of the autumn racing program that marks the end of the autumn racing season.
Racing History of the Flight Stakes
The list of Flight Stakes winners is far from being as impressive as another race we recently examined, the Hill Stakes.
Most of this is due to the three-year-old restriction. Many good fillies/mares have won the Flight Stakes, but it is often the case that the fillies and mares improve with age, producing their best results as four, five and six-year-olds.
Still, there are some true notables on the list of winners and we will look at them as they come along, but in the case of a race like the Flight Stakes, we went hunting to find those winners that did not achieve major notoriety, but did some good racing over the course of their careers.
The winner of the first Flight Stakes in 1947 was Nizam’s Ring.
She was considered a New Zealand horse for her dam Ringless. We did not see much of note in her lines, but we did learn that she won quite a few races, with her biggest win being the VRC Oaks.
The 1948 winner, Wattle, had some shared ancestors with Nizam’s Ring.
Blue’s Sister won in 1951, but other than winning the Flight Stakes, there is not much to be found for her racing.
Much the same can be said for the 1953 winner, Redeswood. Scant records from that era indicate that the Flight Stakes was her best win.
Following Nizam’s Ring and the others that can be credited with a Group 1 win because the Flight Stakes did achieve that status eventually, Amneris, the 1957 winner, won the VRC Wakeful Stakes, so we know at least that her racing was not confined to NSW.
1958 winner Straightlaced offers the same sort of results as the others, as does the 1959 winner, Weeamera.
We finally arrive at a true champion in the 1960 winner, Wenona Girl.
Given what we have seen in the winners from the inception of the race up until 1960, we did not expect to see the name of Wenona Girl. It is as though she went to Randwick for the Epsom and the stewards, seeing she was a three-year-old filly, stuck her in the wrong race.
Wenona Girl was exceptional in every way.
As a three-year-old, in addition to the Flight Stakes, she won five other major races. These were the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes, the Hobartville Stakes and the Rosehill Guineas.
Wenona Girl made a good career just from beating Sky High. She made 15 starts in principal races, winning seven and placing in three.
She did not have anything near as good as a four-year-old, but that is almost unfair, due to how great she was. She still managed to win the Adrian Knox Stakes, the Rawson Stakes and the Tramway Handicap. She ran second in the 1962 All Aged Stakes.
She returned to her formidable form the following year and won six major races in 1963. She won the Challenge Stakes, the Futurity Stakes, the George Adams Handicap, the George Main Stakes, the Linlithgow Stakes and the Lightning Stakes. In 1964, she atoned for her second in the All Aged Stakes by winning the race.
Versatile and hardy, Wenona Girl made 68 starts for 27 wins and 26 placings. Her 68 starts would gain her instant admittance to the PGR Hall of Fame, but she is already in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, so she does not need the likes of us. Randwick stages the Group 3 Wenona Girl Handicap in her honour.
Hoa Hine won the Flight Stakes in 1961 and added the Queensland Oaks the following year.
Jan’s Image followed and she won some other good races, with the crown jewel being the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
The 1964 winner, Reveille, had impressive lines that we have often encountered in our study of Thoroughbred racing. Her sire was Ireland’s Star Kingdom and if we had a dollar for every time we have seen his name in the pedigree of a winner…
Reveille had good wins in the VATC 1,000 Guineas and the AJC Warwick Stakes. In that era, 25 jumps for seven wins earned her just $24,000.
The 1965 winner was Fawnia. Todman was her sire and her grandsire was…extra credit to anyone who said Star Kingdom. She also won the AJC Gimcrack Stakes.
The winners from 1967 and 1968 were Flying Gauntlet and Flying Fable. They shared the same dam, Miss Pilot.
A kiwi galloper named Better Gleam was the 1971 Flight Stakes winner.
We believe she won seven races, with the AJC Princess Handicap being her other good win.
The 1974 winner, Cap D'Antibes, was the best we came across since Wenona Girl.
Cap D'Antibes, in addition to winning the Flight Stakes, won the Newmarket Handicap, the Marlboro Cup, the VRC Lightning Stakes and the VRC Oaks. She also produced seconds in the Epsom Handicap and the Australasian Champion Stakes.
In 1976 winner Apollua, we found a modest horse that would list the Flight Stakes as her best win. It seems she won five times in all, with her next best being the Listed AJC Reginald Allen Handicap.
The 1979 winner, Snowing, deserves a closer look.
She won the Sandown Guineas in addition to the Flight Stakes and some minor races, but she was a case of unfulfilled expectations, as she had Vain for a sire and France’s Wilkes for her grandsire. She was fast enough that some of the sources we used to investigate her made mention of her running 1000 metres in 55.5 seconds at Sandown, along with the note that the track was slower then than now.
Golleen, the winner from 1984, won when the Flight Stakes was a Group 2 race, but she won a then Group 1 race when she won the Thousand Guineas that same year.
Bounding Away won the race in 1986.
Her sire was Biscay and her grandsire was Star Kingdom.
Bounding Away did just that, winning the STC Golden Slipper Stakes the AJC Champagne Stakes, the AJC Oaks and the STC Orlando Classic. This was the second year that the Flight Stakes jumped as a Group 1 race, so Bounding Away can claim five Group 1 wins. She won over $1.4 million from 22 jumps for nine wins and six seconds. She would be declared the Australian Horse of the Year for the 1985 – 86 season.
A big name appears on the Flight Stakes winners list for 1988.
It was Research.
She won over $1.8 million and was the Australian Champion Racehorse of the year for 1989. Five of her nine wins were in Group 1 races.
There was a dead heat in the Flight Stakes in 1996 between Assertive Lass and Dashing Eagle.
Assertive Lass had just 14 jumps for seven wins and five placings. Her big win was the 1997 Coolmore Stud Stakes. In her prior race, the Surround Stake at Warwick Farm, she was second to Dashing Eagle.
Dashing Eagle’s win over Assertive Lass in the Surround Stakes was her last win. Right after her dead heat in the Flight Stakes, she won the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas.
A champion along the lines of Wenona Girl was the 1998 winner Sunline. She won over $11.3 million and was capable, so capable that in one stretch, she made 13 jumps for 11 wins and two seconds.
We have to jump ahead to 2008 to find another notable winner.
It was Samantha Miss.
She won two other Group 1 races, the Champagne Stakes and the VRC Oaks. She made just 12 jumps before John Singleton bought her and retired her from racing. Of those 12 races, she won seven and placed in four, and won all four legs of the Princess Series. The other race in the series was the Tea Rose Stakes
The following year offers us More Joyous.
She won almost $5 million under the tutelage of Gai Waterhouse. More Joyous won seven Group 1 races, including two Queen of the Turf Stakes and her best win was the 2012 Doncaster Handicap.
The next and final true notable winner of the Flight Stakes was Alizee in 2017.
She won more than $3.1 million for Goldolphin. She won 10 times with six placings from 29 jumps. Alizee beat Champagne Cuddles in two consecutive races. The first was the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes and the second was the Flight Stakes. The Futurity Stakes was her final win at Group 1 level, but she continued to run well, finishing highly and winning a couple of Group 2 races.
We refer you to the table that accompanies this article to see the rest of the winners of the Flight Stakes.
Although the Flight Stakes grew in significance over the years since it was first run, the early years in particular offered good horses that did not continue to improve.
The race jumped 13 times before the great champion Wenona Girl appeared and it was almost 30 years until Research won the race.
Better gallopers have been appearing since Sunline won in 1998 and the Flight Stakes has gradually become a target for trainers and connections with good milers.
Flight Stakes Past Winners
|1997||Only A Lady|
|1989||A Little Kiss|