Lightning Stakes – What the experts are saying
It’s little wonder why experts are saying the Black Caviar Lightning is shaping as one of the best editions of the race in recent history.
The nine-horse field has won a total of 40 black-type races between them, accumulating a staggering 12 Group 1s, 10 Group 2s plus nearly $37m in prize money.
The field feature’s the world’s best sprinter Nature Strip, plus the likes of superstars Eduardo, Masked Crusader and Gytrash. Former Singapore Group 1 winner The Inferno adds intrigue to the field, as does two gun three-year-old colts Home Affairs and Profiteer.
Interestingly If the four top-rated horses (Nature Strip, Masked Crusader, Eduardo and Home Affairs) finished accordingly, the Black Caviar Lightning would be Australia’s highest-rated race based on the most recent Longines World Rankings.
So who wins the Group 1 feature at Flemington on Saturday?
Racing.com has spent the week catching up with all the connections and has collated all the good oil to help you find the winner.
1. NATURE STRIP – Chris Waller – Ms Jamie Kah – 6 – 58.5kg
Rod Lyons (owner):
“The horse is going terrific, his trial was great on Friday.
“All reports this week, he’s done extremely well. It’s going to be a fantastic race; I can hardly wait to get there, and fingers crossed he runs up to his best.”
WATCH: Rod Lyons discuss Nature Strip
2. EDUARDO – Joseph Pride – Nash Rawiller – 5 – 58.5kg
“We can’t really give away all our secrets a couple of days out from the race can we.
“But I think it’s pretty evident that what my horse enjoys is a bit of a dogfight so hopefully we get one of those on Saturday.
“He’ll be ridden boldly as he always is, I think it’s his best weapon. I won’t be giving any instructions to Nash, he knows this horse really well and he knows his opposition really well.
“I think we’ll just leave it to him, instructions go out the window in a 56-second dash, it’s about how they jump and how they settle, Nash just gets him into a rhythm like nobody else has been able to find with him.”
“He looks a picture of health, both his trials have been really lovely.
“He’s had a couple of trips down the straight there as a younger horse and he’s certainly a lot more professional now, so I don’t think that’s going to pose any problems for him now.
“I’m pretty excited about it, I think he’s primed to run a terrific race and I’m sure he’ll be very hard to beat.
“He’s proven over the 1000m he’s a tough nut to crack.”
WATCH: Nash Rawiller can’t wait to ride Eduardo
3. MASKED CRUSADER – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Jye McNeil – 3 – 58.5kg
Rupert Legh (owner):
“The reports coming back from John, Michael and Wayne is that he now looks the real deal physically and even mentally. His jump outs have been a lot sharper, where he’s jumped the gates a lot better than what he was doing last prep. Just looking at the horse now, you’re just looking at a fully mature horse and mentally, you just think he’s ready to race.
“Hopefully in the next two years, we’ll see the best of Masked Crusader.”
4. GYTRASH – Gordon Richards & Damien Moyle – Mark Zahra – 2 – 58.5kg
“He had a nice, slick grass gallop (Tuesday) morning and he’s pulled up well from that.
“That will be it, we won’t put a saddle on him until raceday at Flemington.
“This morning was the best he’s worked for the preparation so hopefully he brings his a-game on raceday.”
WATCH: Damien Moyle on Gytrash
5. THE INFERNO – Cliff Brown – Damian Lane – 4 – 58.5kg
“Saturday’s one of those days where if he’s finishing off and running home, I’m really pleased and that’s all I want to see.
“If he wins or runs a place, I’m over the moon, but I think you’ve got to be careful going into a race like this that your expectations aren’t too high.
“He’s won a 1000m race, but I think a 1000m race against these horses is a different scenario to what he’s met before.”
WATCH: Cliff Brown on the latest with The Inferno
6. THE ASTROLOGIST – Leon & Troy Corstens – John Allen – 1 – 58.5kg
“He probably just lacked that little one going into the Standish and we know he’s never at his best first up.
“We tossed and turned whether we were going to run him in the Lightning but he worked enormous this morning and we were super happy with him.
“The thinking is we are going to run on Saturday and get another really good run into him, fitness levels are going to go up.”
WATCH: Troy Corstens on Swats That and The Astrologist
7. SWATS THAT – Leon & Troy Corstens – Damien Oliver – 9 – 56.5kg
“Let’s just hope Nature Strip and Eduardo take each other on and gas each other out and hopefully we can finish over the top.
“She’ll go back, that’s one thing we did learn in the spring, we had two really bad barriers with her and the minute we rode her quiet was when she really sprinted home nicely.
“I think she’s on track and I hate to say it, but she is probably going a little bit better.”
8. HOME AFFAIRS – Chris Waller – James McDonald – 8 – 55.5kg
“We are looking forward to this race. I’m sure he will run well.
“He has got a tough task ahead of him. I think he is obviously a very talented three-year-old sprinter.
“Hopefully he can do us proud by running really well on Saturday.”
WATCH: Chris Waller after Nature Strip and Home Affairs jump out
9. PROFITEER – Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr) – Brett Prebble 7 – 55.5kg
“Those straight races they are unique races, they sit up for the first half and then bang – the good horses really get going.
“The problem with the Lightning is the opposition.
“He’s been down the straight twice and won two races albeit restricted and this race is like nothing he’s even been in.
“He’s a good colt Profiteer and obviously if he was to win there is a lot at stake for his service fee at stud.
“We are happy to take a little risk on him and run him in the race.
WATCH: Mick Price on Profiteer