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The $1m Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, is the second Group 1 of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival. It is also the first leg of the Autumn Sprint Series Triple Crown, which also features the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield, and the G1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
The 1000m scamper, formerly known simply as the Lightning Stakes, is now named in honour of champion mare Black Caviar, who won the race three years on the hop from 2011-2013.
Since it’s first running in 1955, some absolute stars of the turf have been crowned victor of the sprint feature, a list far too great to name names. This year’s race has brought together a small but strong 9 horse field, most of which are resuming from a spell and looking to kickstart their preparation on the right foot.
Mick Price is one of the most popular trainers in Australia for one key reason – he tells it like it is!
We caught up with Price at his amazing new facility at Cranbourne for the inside word on how he is teaching Profiteer to settle ahead of the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes! pic.twitter.com/Zf8TIhECCu
— Ladbrokes.com.au (@ladbrokescomau) February 14, 2022
Looking at the market, Sportsbet has the world’s highest rated sprinter on turf Nature Strip favourite at $2.70, ahead of Joe Pride’s war horse Eduardo at $4.20. Exciting 3YOs Home Affairs and Profiteer are both well respected, as is the Hawkes trained Masked Crusader, who rounds out those under double figures.
However, we know with horse racing that anything can happen and the Flemington straight can be a tricky punting assignment at the best of times. So, we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you! Read on below to find our runner by runner preview of the 2022 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes along with The Shark’s best tips.
1. Nature Strip (6) – $2.70F
Jockey – Jamie Kah 58.5kg
Trainer – Chris Waller
Star sprinter who won this race first up last year and resumes here off a 15 weeks spell. Last prep he led them up before winning by a space in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes at Randwick. He was then rolled by Eduardo in The Shorts before making amends and winning the $14m Everest and the Group 1 VRC Classic here at Flemington. He’s a horse who possesses a high cruising speed and makes his own luck. His trials suggest he is in for another successful campaign and will be looking to add to his $16m in prize money here. Will look the winner for a long way.
2. Eduardo (5) – $4.20
Jockey – Nash Rawiller 58.5kg
Trainer – Joseph Pride
Iron horse who resumes here off a 16 weeks spell. Kicked off his prep in fine style last time in, defeating Nature Strip fair and square in the Group 2 Shorts at Randwick. He then finished a gallant 3rd in The Everest before proving far too strong for his rivals in the $1m Classique Legend Stakes at Rosehill. Although he is an 8YO, he seems to be improving each prep and trainer Joe Pride has worked wonders with him. His trials in preparation for this have been faultless and Nash maintains the ride here. His Flemington record is the only query when looking at his form, but he raced there under his previous trainer and in my opinion is a different horse heading into this assignment. He will be in it for a long way and I’m sure will be out to spoil Nature Strip’s party once again.
3. Masked Crusader (3) – $9.00
Jockey – Jye McNeil 58.5kg
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
Immensely talented galloper resuming here from a 16 week spell. Not only does he wear the same colours as Chautauqua, he also has the electric turn of foot he had. His first up win last prep in The Heath at Caulfield had to be seen to be believed, as did his fast finishing 2nd in The Everest, where he reeled off some stunning late sectionals. He’s a horse who needs a strong tempo up front and there is no doubt he will get that here, but whether or not he can run down the likes of Nature Strip and Eduardo over 5 furlongs is another thing. His jump outs leading into this have been very good and if he can settle close enough to the leaders, he will be the one closing hard the last 100m. Each way claims.
Who will be crowned the 2022 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes champion on Saturday? ✍ pic.twitter.com/J05Ftw7y9J
— Racing.com (@Racing) February 16, 2022
4. Gytrash (2) – $12
Jockey – Mark Zahra 58.5kg
Trainer – Gordon Richards & Damien Moyle
Winner of this race in 2020 defeating Nature Strip, who resumes here off a 16 week spell. Ran a big race first up last prep where he arguably should’ve beaten Eduardo and Nature Strip in The Shorts. His two runs to follow were below par, where he finished down the track in The Everest and the Classique Legend Stakes. His record at Flemington, and over 1000m speaks for itself and there is no doubt he is a horse with tremendous ability, but the worrying factor for me is he hasn’t won a race since a knee chip was removed in November 2020. His trial leading into this was fair at best for a Group 1 sprinter and I’m happy to go around him here.
5. The Inferno (4) – $23
Jockey – Damian Lane 58.5kg
Trainer – Cliff Brown
Ex-Singapore superstar who resumes here off an 18 week spell. Wasn’t disgraced in last year’s Everest where he got back from the outside gate and held his ground. Prior to that was victorious in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes before sprouting wings late and just missing in the Group 1 Moir Stakes, both over 1000m at Moonee Valley. He’s a horse with good all-round stats, but in saying that has never seen the Flemington straight. I don’t think it will be an issue for him, but he is a get back run on horse like Masked Crusader and will need to keep in touch early. He got a long way back in his recent trial before hitting the line hard and will be looking to finish off the race in the same fashion here.
6. The Astrologist (1) – $41
Jockey – John Allen 58.5kg
Trainer – Leon & Troy Corstens
Honest sprinter who resumed in the Group 3 Standish Hcp at Flemington over 1200m, where he finished 3rd to Halvorsen. Has had a freshen up and drops back to the 1000m here. Most of his best form is over the 12/1400m and it’s fair to say he might lack a bit of class in this grade of race. He is the lone horse of the field who has some race fitness on his side and is capable of giving some cheek, but couldn’t fill out a ticket with his name on it.
7. Swats That (9) – $46
Jockey – Damien Oliver 56.5kg
Trainer – Leon & Troy Corstens
Talented mare resuming here from a 15 week spell. Ran well in this race last year when finishing 3rd to Nature Strip. Her form last prep was a bit up and down, with the highlight being a distant 2nd in the Group 1 VRC Classic behind that same horse – Nature Strip. She does race well here at Flemington and has jumped out well. Would be a surprise to see her cross the line in front, but she is capable of running into a place if she brings her A game.
8. Home Affairs (8) – $6.00
Jockey – James McDonald 55.5kg
Trainer – Chris Waller
🗣️”He’s got the advantage of youth, fresh and fast legs, the 3yo record in general is terrific against older horses”@NoverreMan‘s thoughts on HOME AFFAIRS heading into the Lightning Stakes.
— SENTrack (@SEN_track) February 16, 2022
Group 1 winning colt resuming here from a 16 week spell. Relished the Flemington straight last prep when he blew his rivals away in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes. Prior to that he did finish down the track behind the likes of Nature Strip, Masked Crusader and Eduardo in The Everest. Interestingly, James McDonald has chosen to stick with him over favourite Nature Strip. One could only think this is because he is a lightly raced 3YO and a lucrative stud deal could be looming in the shadows making him a more attractive option. With that said, I don’t believe he has a better chance in this race than Nature Strip. Yes, he will be bigger and stronger than he was in last year’s Everest, and is proven down the straight, but the simple fact is he’s racing the big boys now and is untried over the 1000m. His trials leading into this have been good and he should get a nice run just behind the leaders. Can he run them down and elevate his worth at stud? Time will only tell.
9. Profiteer (7) – $8.00
Jockey – Brett Prebble 55.5kg
Trainer – Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr
Another 3YO colt resuming here off a 16 week spell. Has had two goes down the straight at Flemington and won with a leg in the air, running good time on both occasions. In saying that he’s in the same boat as Home Affairs, in the fact that he is racing the elites of the sprinting ranks now. His jump outs and trial have looked ultra-impressive, and he looks primed to put in a career best first up here. Whether or not he can match it with the old boys is yet to be seen but over the 1000m here, I feel he has a better chance of doing so than Home Affairs.
This year’s Lightning Stakes is a race filled with mystery and intrigue. Can the new kids on the block dethrone the title holders of the Australian sprinting ranks? Or will the old timers show them how it’s done. It’s hard to knock the form Nature Strip and Eduardo bring to the races here. With over $21m in prizemoney between them, they deserve to be at the top of the market in this field.
With only 9 starters, one would think the field will race in one cluster, but as seen time and time again with straight racing, the jockeys may have other ideas. The race looks to be filled with early speed, as you’d expect, so tactics will play a key role.
Both Nature Strip and Eduardo are speed machines but are also capable of taking a sit, whilst both 3YOs also have plenty of early toe and could easily find themselves in front settling down. If the likes of Masked Crusader and The Inferno can stay in touch early, it’d be no shock to see either of them in the winners stall.
— Pride Racing (@PrideRacing) February 16, 2022
With all that said and done, I’m sticking with the favourite Nature Strip. The winner of 19 from 34, he is a horse who certainly knows where the winning post is. His recent trials/jump outs have been as good as ever and he is looking to become a back-to-back winner of this race, after taking out last year’s edition.
There has been much talk about the jockey change, with James McDonald riding Home Affairs. I believe there is nothing lost with the engagement of Jamie Kah. She is a well balanced rider with soft hands, and has a 100% strike rate on the horse after winning this race on him 12 months ago. She will let him travel in his comfort zone and I have no doubt he will look the winner for a very long way, hopefully all the way!
Best Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Tip: 1. Nature Strip – Win ($2.70)
If you need more news, information and tips, head over to our 2022 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes page for all your punting needs!
*Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of Sportsbet.