Thursday, February 17, 2011

Autumn Racing Carnival 2011 - Week 2 – Lightning Stakes

Black Caviar returns this Saturday

Another great day of racing coming up this Saturday, with most of the action happening at Flemington featuring the highly anticipated Lightning Stakes, a Group One Sprint over 1000 metres.

It looks to be a real humdinger with a talented field of ten runners, but all eyes will be on super sprinting mare Black Caviar, making her first appearance since spring 2010. In a recent trial, she stunned onlookers and caused her jockey Luke Nolan to remark that he needed a chap stick for the windburn.

Hay List who was not at his best the last time he raced against Black Caviar in the Patinack Classic, is her main opponent, and if fit and ready could challenge her to the line. Others in contention though hardly threatening are Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily, Warm Love and Grand Duels. I can’t say I have ever heard of Leap Frog, so have no idea what he’s doing in this race, as looking at his form he appears to be out of his league.

Anyway, I think Black Caviar is a top chance to keep her unbeaten record intact.

Before the Lightning Stakes I’m interested in the C S Hayes Stakes, a Group Three race for Australian Guineas bound three year old colts and geldings over 1400 metres. Enjin Number Nine who caught my attention last time he raced in the Manfred Stakes – I watched a video of the race again yesterday and remain impressed – is entered in this. It’s a tougher field than that he faced in the Manfred with Caulfield Guineas winner Anacheeva being a real danger despite his lacklustre performance in the Zedative recently. Others to consider are Bullbars who ran second to Enjin Number Nine in the Manfred, Dusty Star, a winner last weekend, and Spirited Eagle who came second in the Zedative.

The eighth race on the program, the Gurners Lane Handicap (1700 metres) has the interesting young stayer Studley Park aiming to make it three wins in a row from as many starts.

The weather is likely to be damp in Melbourne on Saturday, as rain is forecast and it pelted down with a vengeance last night, but cleared this morning into a hot and humid day. The track will be rated dead at best.

Rosehill hosts the Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400 metres) and the field is excellent, what with Danleigh, Hot Danish, Love Conquers All, and Centennial Park being in the mix. Metal Bender resumes in this as does talented mare Melito. It looks a ripper race – hard to pick a winner, but it will most likely be one of the aforementioned. Centennial Park beat Love Conquers All and Hot Danish with Danleigh running fourth in the Expressway Stakes a fortnight ago.

Update Saturday night

Black Caviar
appears to be invincible, as witnessed by her demolishment of the Lightning Stakes field this afternoon. She raced away at the 600 metres and put several lengths on Hay List in a trice. Luke Nolan eased her down to a canter at the 100 metres as she cruised effortlessly to the line. "Extraordinary!" I exclaimed to myself, watching it and even the commentator Greg Miles was awestruck. She now has 9 wins from as many starts , two of them at Group One level. I can't see anything beating her. How exciting!

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