Shoals wins Percy Sykes

11th April, 2017

By Rob Burnet (

The two-year-old fillies presented a head-bobbing finish that had Shoals with the head down and Formality with the head up in the $600,000, Group 2 IG Share Trading Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Both fillies, Shoals trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman with Mark Zahra up, Formality trained by the Hayes and Dabernig stable with Craig Williams up, made up considerable ground to swamp Serena Bay and Tim Clark 75m from the line.

Zahra took the outside line with Shoals while Williams went inside Serena Bay with Formality. The latter looked as if she was going to overcome diffident run in the Group 1 Golden Slipper over 1200m back on March 18th, but then Shoals did not flinch for one stride and she then made the essential one to win the race.

The winning margin was a short half-head with Serena Bay (Sebring) and Clark third. Villa Carlotta was fourth and Almanzora fifth.

The time was 1.13.74 on the Heavy 8 track with the final 600m in 37.54. Shoals was the $3.00 and $2.90 favourite.

"She did not show us a whole lot early but this prep she has been fantastic and to be a Group 3 and a Group 2 winner, unbeaten in three starts shows she is a filly of great promise. I don't think she really handled the track," said Lee Freedman.

"We went from a maiden to the Breeders and I said if she wins this, and only if she wins this, we will take her to Sydney. It is a great thrill to win this for John (Messara), he has been a great supporter of mine for 25 years.

"She has done a great job and she deserves a break and she may be a genuine 1000 Guineas filly the way she raced today," he said.

"I always thought she was going to win, but then as I got her head in front all of a sudden she half put the brakes on, I was just lucky she had a bit of momentum to hold off the horse on the inside," said Zara.

Both fillies are by Fastnet Rock and both are owned by breeding powerhouses. Jonathon Munz and Arrowfield Stud co-own Shoals, who is out of the Hussonet mare The Broken Shore, while Coolmore Stud's associates own Formality, out of the Jolie's Halo mare Jolie's Shinju.

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