Group 1 racing returns to Flemington this weekend and the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is an intriguing contest between some of the best sprinters in the country.
Flying Artie and Star Turn get their first opportunity against the older horses and are on top of betting, but they will face stiff competition from the likes of Spieth, Terravista and The Quarterback.
We have analysed the entire 2017 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes field and you can find our thoughts on every single runner below.
Terravista returns to the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes after almost winning the race 12 months ago. It is fair to say that he has not flourished since that run and his best performance in the spring was a second place finish behind Redzel in the Mumm Stakes. He is a horse that is capable of a spike rating and must be respected, but I think his days of fighting for the title of the best sprinter in the country are over.
Flamberge was the surprise packet of the Melbourne Festival Of Racing after taking out the Oakleigh Plate and the William Reid Stakes. He hasn’t really fire and barrier one is far from ideal, so I am happy to avoid him in this race. It should be noted that I have been very wrong about him before!
The Quarterback is the value runner in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes field and he will be storming home late. He has an excellent record at Flemington and he has recorded three wins from six starts over this track and distance. The Street Boss gelding will be giving his rivals a big start, but the outside barrier draw is perfect and he will be storming home late.
I have given Counterattack plenty of chances during his racing career to dare, but I can’t have him in this race. He really isn’t a genuine 1000 metres horse and he has now shown on a few occasions that he is just below the level required to win at Group 1 level.
Illustrious Lad went to another level during the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival and there was plenty of merit in his victory in the Linlithgow Stakes on Victoria Derby Day. He has recorded three wins from five starts over 1000 metres, but I think that the Newmarket Handicap is his major goal this time in and Peter Gelagotis will have him ready to peak for that race in three weeks’ time.
I am a fan of Faatinah, but it is tough to have any confidence in him following his first-up effort in the W.J. Adams Stakes at Caulfield a fortnight ago. David Hayes has been talking him up during the week, but he has now failed to fire at 1000 metres on three occasions and the jury is out on him at the distance.
Spieth has been the best-backed runner in Black Caviar Lightning Stakes betting markets. The Thorn Park entire was a good thing beaten in the Darley Classic and he is clearly a talented sprinter, but he is another that will probably be better suited in the Newmarket Handicap. He will be flying home late and is not without a chance, but I can’t get him as short as his current price.
Supido is the x-factor in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes field. He recorded six wins on the trot before he finished a credible third behind Black Heart Bart in The Goodwood. He has not been seen at the races since and it is tough to stack him up in this level of company, but he has a great deal of potential and can’t be ruled out.
Orujo has won just three of his 25 race starts and was beaten at Grafton over this track three starts ago. He does have speed to burn, but maintaining it is the problem and he is deserving of his status as the extreme outsider.
Heatherly gets another opportunity at Group 1 level following her placings in the Oakleigh Plate and Moir Stakes in 2016. The 1000 metres is her best trip and she has performed well over this trip, but Flemington probably isn’t her best trip and there is still a question mark over her ability to breakthrough for a Group 1 victory.
Flying Artie is one of the two leading contenders in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. He stamped as the best three-year-old country with his victory in the Coolmore Stud Stakes and he is still only lightly-raced. The Artie Schiller colt will probably be better suited over 1200 metres, but a repeat of his Coolmore Stud Stakes effort would be enough to win this race and the fact that Damien Oliver is in the saddle is always a positive.
Star Turn is on top of my Black Caviar Lightning Stakes selections. He was no match for Flying Artie in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, but there was plenty to like about his wins in the San Domenico Stakes and Schillaci Stakes. His record at 1100 metres suggests that he will be suited over the 1000 metres and as long as Dwayne Dunn does not ride him too slowly he will be very difficult to beat.
Missrock has flown under the radar heading into the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. It is very strange to see a horse coming off a Crown Oaks campaign in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, but Robbie Laing has pulled of these sort of training feats before. This is still a very big step-up in class, but it wouldn’t surprise to see her run a better race than the current price suggests.