The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is one of the marquee sprints of the racing season, with the list of winners an absolute who’s who of Australian sprinting greats.
Last year Chautauqua took out the race, following in the footsteps of Lankan Rupee, Black Caviar three times, Scenic Blast, Apache Cat, Miss Andretti, Takeover Target, Fastnet Rock and Choisir since the turn of the century.
This year sees no stand-outs, but some serious sprinting talent at the top of the markets.
Two three-year-old colts head the betting, with Flying Artie the punters-elect ahead of Star Turn at this stage.
They’ve met twice, with Flying Artie taking honours both times, albeit not much between them on either occasion.
Flying Artie was placed in both the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper at the end of his two-year-old season, before being unbeaten in the spring taking out the Blue Sapphire Stakes and the Coolmore Stud Stakes coming from last. He is a genuine underage sprinting talent.
Star Turn’s Schillaci Stakes win in October was one of the most breathtaking of the spring, donkey-licking genuine Group 1 performers like Malaguerra, Fell Swoop, Flamberge, Turn Me Loose, Hucklebuck and Dothraki. He’ll be hard to beat again.
The rest of the field comprises a nice mix of sprinting veterans and up-and-comers.
Terravista, The Quarterback and Flamberge make up the first group, all Group 1 winners, with the first two having won at the highest level down the straight.
Terravista may well have won this race last year if not for pilot error, with Damien Oliver dropping his whip in the shadows of the post, and he’s a threat again. The Quarterback is a gun straight horse, and accomplished over the 1000m course at Flemington. There’ll be plenty who can’t resist the each-way value he represents at the $15 mark.
Flamberge has one placing from his last eight runs down the straight, and is hard to recommend at this level.
Spieth, Supido and the mare Heatherly head the lightly raced types still making their name.
Spieth is the emerging star of the sprinting ranks and was one of the stories of 2016, rising from a class 1 win at Kembla Grange to being pipped in the Group 1 weight-for-age Darley Classic in Cup week behind Malaguerra.
He’s having his first run over 1000m, and most will be looking for him to put the writing on the wall before unloading on him in the Newmarket.
Supido is another lightly raced talent, who hasn’t been seen since last years Goodwood Handicap in Adelaide. He ran third behind Black Heart Bart and Under The Louvre that day, beaten less than a length, and didn’t that form stand up.
Heatherly is a ball of sprinting talent that has Group 1 winner written all over her. She has run well and won up the straight in the past, but speedy fillies and mares can often be brought undone. If this was around a turn she’d be top selection, and is still a live winning chance, but the straight course makes it harder for her.
Of the rest, Illustrious Lad and Counterattack ran the quinella down the straight in the Derby Day Group 2, and have good form around Group 1 horses. This level will test them, but they should run well.
Faatinah was all over the place first-up and is a better horse than that, but he’s hard to come into. Orujo isn’t up to it. Missrock is the rare filly coming off a VRC Oaks run to resume in a Lightning Stakes. Hats off to Robbie Laing if he can pull that off.
They’ll go like the clappers here, with Faatinah the likely leader from Heatherly, Star Turn and Illustrious Lad. Of the main chances, Spieth and The Quarterback will be the most rearward, with most others in-between.
1. Star Turn
3. Flying Artie
There’s plenty of quality racing up at Rosehill too, with three Group 2 races in the form of the Hobartville Stakes for three-year-olds, the Millie Fox for the mares and the Silver Slipper for the two-year-olds, where the Golden Slipper favourite She Will Reign resumes.