Hall of Fame
In Full Flight
1968, bay colt, New South Wales First Swallow (Goodasgold)
It doesn’t take any major skill to recognise In Full Flight as a great racehorse. He started 20 times, winning 16 of those, including six Grade Ones, often by wide margins. The horses he beat read like a who’s who of South Africa’s topracehorses of all time: Sentinel, Elevation, Mazarin and William Penn, not to mention King’s Guard, Chichester and Pedlar.The In Full Flight story begins with the retirement of a young jockey, David Payne, forced to retire from race riding because of weight problems.
Largely thanks to this one great horse, he was second leading trainer in the country after little more than a year of training. In 1972, at the age of 24, he became the youngest trainer ever to win the July. In Full Flight’s introductory season was promising, with four wins from six starts at two, including one over his future protagonist, Sentinel.
Despite two of those victories coming in stakes races, it was perhaps his final start at two that gave the biggest clue to his future greatness. In an open handicap,carrying top weight, he won by 9.5 lengths at weight terms 31 lbs worse than weight for age. At three, he was superlative.
His 11 starts yielded just one defeat, in the SA Guineas, when the sticky going was not to his liking. He famously dead-heated in the Cape Guineas with Sentinel, then thrashed him in the Queen’s Plate, won the July, beat the country’s best sprinters at their own game, and for good measure ended the season with a 5.5 length defeat of Sentinel.
He opened his four-year-old campaign by beating William Penn in the Champion Stakes, and then beat him again in the Somerset Plate. If at all possible, In Full Flight was better as a maturing four-year-old than he had been in his all-conquering three-year-old season.
In Full Flight then started odds-on for the Met, finishing third, beaten just under a length. The winner was the underrated Gold Flame, who was possibly too good a horse to be receiving 13 lbs. A few days later, In Full Flight sadly died as a result of a ruptured lung. He had already done more than enough to write himself into the history books, but it is impossible to not wonder what more he could have achieved as a mature horse at the peak of his powers.
Thoroughpedia (Oscar Foulkes)