First Seal stamped herself as 2014 Flight Stakes favourite when she defeated Winx in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 20, but trainer John Thompson is still wary of the threat posed by Winx in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
First Seal started the Tea Rose Stakes as a clear outsider in betting, but worked home strongly in the final 150 metres to score an upset win over Winx and Earthquake in the Group 2 event.
Thompson told Sky Racing HQ that he was thrilled with the performance of First Seal in the Tea Rose Stakes and could not be happier with the condition of the Fastnet Rock filly, but admits that she will need to produce another outstanding performance to beat Winx in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m).
“They are both top class fillies and we were very impressed with our filly the other day,” Thompson said.
“She has come on since that run and she is as good as we can get her.
“I am not underestimating her and I think Winx had a good win first-up on wet track and you don’t know how much that took out of her for the second run, she just might have had the edge off her.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if she bounced back, but our filly is spot on and she will be running well.
“There are a few unknowns in there and I’m not sure if Peter’s horse is coming up.
“I think that Winx and our filly are probably the two that will fight it out.”
While First Seal is arguably Thompson’s best chance of recording a Group 1 victory at Royal Randwick on Saturday, he also has Hooked in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap after the Casino Prince entire was kept in his care following his purchase for $600,000 at the Patinack Farm Dispersal sale yesterday.
Hooked earnt his place in the 2014 Epsom Handicap field with an all the way win in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on September 17 and Thompson is happy with the condition of the four-year-old, but would have preferred an inside barrier draw for the Australian Derby placegetter.
“It was probably a soft win at Newcastle, but it was good to get the win under the belt there,” Thompson said.
“Because it was a soft win and he didn’t have to work too hard he has come through that win very good and he is in tip-top shape for this run.
“The barrier was a disappointment I must say, a good barrier would have been an easy ride for Sammy, and it just makes it a little bit tricky.
“The horse will be positive out of the barrier and it will be up to Sammy to work out where he wants to be after that.”
First Seal is currently available at 2014 Flight Stakes odds of $2.50, while Hooked is at a quote of $17 in the Epsom Handicap betting market with Ladbrokes Australia.