Anaheed just holds on from Flit to claim the Percy Sykes Stakes

An extraordinary late charge from well back in the field by Flit (by Medaglia D’Oro) was only just thwarted when Anaheed (by Fastnet Rock) and Tim Clark  managed to hold on to the lead to land the very valuable $1,000,000, Group 2, Camera House Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) on Day 2 of The Championship at Royal Randwick in Sydney.

Anaheed and Tim Clark on their way to winning the Percy Sykes Stakes, photo

A high-class field of juvenile fillies headlined by this year’s all-the-way Golden Slipper winner Kiamichi, the 2019 Percy Sykes Stakes might have witnessed a second Group 2 victory by Anaheed, but will probably be best recalled for the eye-catching performance of the runner-up Flit.

Ridden well off the pace in the early stages and still a clear last on the home-turn, Flit produced a remarkable finish under a James McDonald ride to overhaul all of her opposition bar the winner.

Given a more conventional ride on a solid pace, Anaheed took up the running shortly after negotiating the Randwick rise and just held on in the shadows of the post to score by the narrowest of margins.

In a photo-finish, Anaheed got the judges verdict by a short-head, with Villami (by Foxwedge) claiming third a further one-length in arrears.

Speaking after the win, successful co-trainer Paul Snowden remarked: “It’s a testament to her toughness.”

One of two runners in the race for the stable in addition to Cheer Leader, Snowden Jnr added: “We left it right up until Tuesday morning. The two fillies worked together and there was a cigarette paper between them. They both applied themselves quite nicely in their work. 

“We were more than happy to run, but she [Anaheed] had to do a little bit of work mid-race in the first three sections. What she has been able to do is quite remarkable in a long preparation.”

Snowden then pointed out: “I always thought she was going to be a better three-year-old. She won her first stakes race on Everest Day and here we are now. She’s quite valuable. The owners were over this week and ran their eye over her and giggled to each other because they’ve got a nice filly.”

Naturally, winning rider Tim Clark was also full of praise for the winner.

“I think on her day she can match up with them, but she found the track a bit wet in the Golden Slipper and she seems to really save her best for here at Randwick,” claimed Clark.

“I had a different horse going to the barriers today — I knew I was in play. She travelled so well for me and cannoned past the leader. 

“She still gets to the front and gets a little bit lost. She wandered around a little bit still. She’s got very good ability, and I think with her runs spaced she reacts well also.”

In reference to the standard of the race, Clark observed: “I thought that was quite a deep race today. They are the best fillies we’ve got. She was able to work early and still hold them off.

“She is a really nice filly and I’m pleased to be associated with her.”

Anaheed was returned at an SP of $8.50, Flit at $6.00, and Villami at $10.00.

Winning time was 1m09.67s, the last 600m sectional 34.86s.

Anaheed is raced by Sheikh Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and has now won three of her six career starts for $954,200 in stakes.

Percy Sykes Stakes, photo finish picture ATC

What the beaten jockeys said:

Hugh Bowman (Kiamichi): “I think she’s probably come to the end of her prep.”

Blake Shinn (Pin Sec): “Good honest run.”

James McDonald (Flit): “Good.”

Damian Lane (Cheer Leader): “Very disappointing.”

Kerrin McEvoy (Athiri): “Stayed on well.”

Brenton Avdulla (Villami): “She ran terrific. Good improvement back on top of the ground. I think she’s going to make a good three-year-old filly.”

Sam Clipperton (Badia): “Good run in a strong race. She’s on track.”

Kathy O'Hara (St Covet's Spirit): “I thought it was a nice run from her. She’s not a 1200m filly so she was run a little bit off her feet but I think she’s going to make a nice three-year-old when she returns.”

Tommy Berry (Kahlo): “She’s got a lot of improvement. She went well.”