Horse Racing News: Annabel Neasham filly fresh and ready to Fly

Following the retirement of multiple Group 1 winner Zaaki, Annabel Neasham is looking to her next generation of carnival horses to step up to the plate, among them Light Fingers Stakes runner-up Learning To Fly.

One of the best two-year-olds of her generation, the Justify filly spent nearly a year on the sidelines after almost falling in the 2023 Golden Slipper.

Finally returning to the races in February, she finished a close second to Kimochi in the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) before a sound fourth behind Tropical Squall in the Surround Stakes (1400m) two weeks later.

Neasham felt the filly raced flat second-up having come off such a long break, so she opted to freshen her up and reroute straight towards The Championships at Randwick where Saturday’s Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) is the likely option.

“That’s why we reset the button,” Neasham said.

“She probably goes to either the P J Bell or the Arrowfield, and then to Adelaide for the (Robert) Sangster.”

The Group 2 Arrowfield 3YO Stakes (1200m) is at Randwick on April 12 with the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on April 27.

Learning To Fly was slated to barrier trial at Warwick Farm last week but got balloted out, so Neasham instead took her to Randwick for an exhibition gallop on the Kensington track.

In a solid 1000m workout, stablemate and Canberra Guineas runner-up Port Lockroy was roused along in front with Learning To Fly tucking in behind him and stretching out nicely to the line.

While the race day hitout wasn’t Neasham’s Plan A, she was happy that both horses had a positive experience.

“They both got balloted from the trials, which is why she had to come here for a gallop,” Neasham said.

“So I wanted them to have a good hitout instead of a trial because she is going to be a few weeks in between (runs).

“He ran home in a bit over 32 seconds, so she wasn’t going to catch him, but both would have benefited from having a day out and a good stretch of the legs.”

Port Lockroy, who finished fifth in Tom Kitten’s Spring Champion Stakes last campaign, is also slated to run at Randwick on Saturday with the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) his target.

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