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2001 NZ WELCOME STAKES - Won by Sly Flyin


The old firm is back with another speed merchant; Negus and De Filippi. Another smart brown colt, not quite another Courage Under Fire, but the talk is something not far short of it.

While he may have lacked the swashbuckling brilliance of Courage Under Fire when he won the race three years ago, there was a clinical touch to the manner in which Sly Flyin despatched the field in the NZ Welcome Stakes. De Filippi is yet to say go: and by not doing so this may have flattered the efforts of All Hart and Franco Trubrooke who ran second and third.

Sly Flyin is not an easy horse to drive; and he is no easier to train. If he had his own way, he wouldn't train at all. He is a notoriously poor track-worker. "He wouldn't beat a maidener at home," said Negus. "That is why we have to take him to the trials each week, so he will do the work," he said. But the problems don't end there. He has the annoying habit of pulling a plate just about every time he gets off the float, and he did this when he arrived on the track before the race - and again when he got home. "I had to get Brian Wilson, the blacksmith, to re-plate him, and it's a worry when you have to do this just before the start," said Negus.

Once Negus has finished with him, the next one to worry about him is De Filippi. Said Negus: "There is always a fifty percent chance of him galloping in the score-up. He was just lucky the horse outside him galloped and gave him a bit more room on the gate. He gets a bit claustrophobic and over that first four hundred metres after the start he is still a risk. It is just that he wants to get on with it. He is more hyperactive than nervous," he said.

Sly Flyin was left a little wide early on, soon had cover on the outer, but De Filippi didn't stay there long. He was in front a round out, slowed the pace, and didn't ask for anything special to win the race in comfort. "Once in front, he is a hard horse to get past," he said. A colt by Sands A Flyin from a Soky's Atom mare, and raced by principal Negus client Greg Brodie, Sly Flyin may be gelded after the Sires' Stakes Final next month. Negus is near enough to deciding on this before he is put aside.

While there is speculation about the quality and potential of Sly Flyin, and the tendency to compare him with Courade Under Fire, Negus has his own opinion. "Courage Under Fire was a champion, and this one is a really, really good horse. He can run a half in 55, whereas Courage could do it in 54. I honestly think he is less than five lengths behind Courage Under Fire at the same stage. Sly Flyin is going to be a very good free-for-aller. But I might be wrong; he might do more."

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 19Apr01

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