Justify poised for huge stud career after Saturday’s stakes win

American superstar Justify scored his first stakes win in Australia as a sire on Saturday, with Learning To Fly triumphing at Rosehill. (Picture: Coolmore)

Learning To Fly’s Widden Stakes victory at Rosehill on Saturday was just the start of what is going to be a spectacular stud career for Justify, according to James Bester – bloodstock consultant to Coolmore.

Justify is Coolmore’s most high-profile shuttle stallion to Australia in a generation, and Saturday’s win for Learning To Fly was the American superstar’s first stakes triumph in the southern hemisphere.

Bester, also a part-breeder of Learning To Fly, praised Coolmore for the unwavering faith it has shown in Justify.

“Coolmore has shown levels of belief in this stallion that I haven’t seen in my 30-something-year connection with them,” he told HorseBetting.com.au.

“The fact that they have bought the best mares in both the northern and southern hemisphere, I haven’t seen that level of support before.”

Already, Justify is proving to be a sensation at stud, just like the Triple Crown winner was on the track in the US.

“There’s great belief in him. And he’s just come through a season in the northern hemisphere where his first two-year-olds there made him the leading sire of stakes winning two-year-olds,” Bester said.

“That was ahead of a horse like Into Mischief. For a decade, Into Mischief has been the dominant two-year-old sire in America.”

READ: Patient approach paying off for ‘extraordinary’ Learning To Fly

While Bester and trainer Annabel Neasham were delighted at the natural talent Learning To Fly showed on Saturday, the top bloodstock consultant has also been thrilled with Justify’s performances in retirement.

“For him as a first-season sire to come out and challenge him (Into Mischief) was an indication to us that he’s a very promising sire,” Bester said.

“And that doesn’t always translate to the Australian scene.

“As opposed to American Pharoah, Justify’s sire Scat Daddy and that sire line is very much suited to turf, speed and Australian racing.”

Neasham said after Learning To Fly’s half-length win that she could possibly go to the Inglis Millennium on February 11, on her way to the Golden Slipper.

2023 G3 Widden Stakes (1100m) – Learning To Fly (1st)

And if she wins her likely next assignment over 1100m worth $2 million, Bester said interest in Justify progeny at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale would only go up.

“She may go through the Inglis Millennium because she qualifies for that coming from the Inglis Easter sales,” Bester said.

“I’m sure Annabel will work out the best program for her, but I think she’s (favourite) for the Golden Slipper right now.

“Winning one of those Slipper lead-ups will give Justify a fabulous push forward prior to the Easter sales.”

Bester said there was no doubt among the top trainers who currently have a Justify filly or colt under their watch that he is the real deal as a sire.

“I think already all the trainers who have them are adamant that they can run,” he said.

“We’ve heard Trent Busuttin has a good one and Ciaron Maher has a good one.”

Bester also liked the look of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s filly Just Glamourous, who finished seventh in the Widden Stakes but hit the line hard.

She is by Justify and out of Global Glamour.

“I thought Gai’s Just Glamorous showed a lot of promise. She actually ran the fastest last 200m of that race on Saturday, and very nearly the fastest last 400m,” he said.

“She just wants to get up to 1400 and 1600m, and I think she’ll be a top-class filly.

“So the Justify factor is very exciting on all levels, and I can’t conceive of him not succeeding big time.”

Bester has put his money where his mouth is – he purchased two Justify fillies for himself at this month’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

“As a result, I bought two myself bought two at the Magic Millions believing they’d only become more expensive, because I’m fully aware how Annabel feels about Learning To Fly,” he said.

“Now that she’s come out and done it, I think trainers and buyers will be much more ready to buy Justifieds at sales that are coming up.”

Bester said Learning To Fly comes from a family of champions, which was why he wasn’t surprised with her incredible debut performance on the weekend.

“There are so many aspects to this filly,” he said.

“One is her dam who was a Group-winning two-year-old.

“The dam is called Ennis Hill, and her brother Acrobat won the Inglis Classic.

“The other full sister Lake Geneva placed in the Golden Slipper and the Blue Diamond.

“And the granddam Hips Don’t Lie was a fantastic two-year-old.”

Connections of Learning To Fly were delighted with her trial victory over 792m at Warwick Farm on January 16, with Perfect Proposal the runner-up for Peter and Paul Snowden.

Perfect Proposal finished second in last year’s Gimcrack Stakes and eighth in the Widden Stakes.

“There’s just so much speed, class and precocity in the family that it’s no surprise Learning To Fly came out from her early trials and showed this in her first race,” Bester said.

More horse racing news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments