Lightning Stakes In Detail

Lightning Stakes In Detail

February is a much anticipated month for punters who like to take a plunge on the thoroughbreds.

And while most of the action takes place at Caulfield, Flemington racecourse in Melbourne has a spot in the middle of the month offering some high class action, with its top offering being the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.

This race is the only Group 1 event on the Australian racing calendar on this particular weekend; every other race of Group level is confined to the capital.

The segment of the season is just heating up for the Autumn Racing Carnival, and horses that have been spelling during the quiet months of December and January are forming up the busy months of March and April.

The Black Caviar Lightning was initiated in 1955 as a principal race that of course would have been measured at five furlongs before the arrival of the metric system in the early 70s.

At that time, it was known simply as the Lightning Stakes. The race is considered a significant leg of a series known as the Global Sprint Challenge that includes similar stakes sprints in Great Britain, Hong Kong and Japan.
The field is thus an attraction to international sprinters that want to demonstrate their abilities to travel and compete against the best the world has to offer.

The race had its name changed in 2013 to pay homage to the filly that was undefeated during her 25 race career and was also seldom challenged.

In fact, even though she was a sprinter, she was often seen to be eased by her rider near the finish in order to not too badly damage the esteem of those unfortunate enough to be thrown up against her. Black Caviar was retired after her victory in the 2013 T.J. Smith Stakes.

The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is run over 1000 metres under weight-for-age conditions. It is open to both genders. One of the interesting facets of the race is that it is conducted along Flemington’s long straight and has no turns. This makes the race a test of pure speed where jockeys do not have to do any significant steering, they just have to hold on.

Prize money for the race is currently $750,000. As mentioned before, it was principal in nature when it first appeared. It was designated as Group 2 when the current classification system was devised, and it remained so until 1986. The following year saw it being elevated to Group 1 status.

Punters can observe the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley racecourse to gain insight into which horses are in good form, since it features similar conditions, but there has been no Australia Stakes/Lightning Stakes double in over twenty years, seemingly making it a somewhat safe proposition to back any other than the Australia Stakes winner.

Punters can also get some inkling from the results from the previous week at Caulfield in either the Rubiton or the Carylon. More information can be found at

From the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, many will want to try their chances in the Newmarket Handicap in the upcoming month of March, and the race’s new namesake accomplished that exact feat in 2011.

Some of the finest sprinters of the later half of the 20th and the early part of the 21st century have won the race, and the weight-for-age conditions mean that the opportunity for consecutive or multiple wins is a viable proposition.

Sky High was the first to repeat, those coming in 1961 and 1962 and accounting for two of that champion’s 26 wins from 52 starts racing career.

He was immediately succeeded by Wenona Girl in 1963 and 1964. That competent race mare set a career earnings record for Australia of $70,825 when she retired, a laughable amount by current standards, but a reality that applies to all great athletes.

The next repeat winner was Maybe Mahal in 1977-78.

That mare produced over $300,000 even though she had half as many wins as Wenona Girl, serving to highlight the growth or racing.

Next comes River Rough in 1984-85. He hailed from New Zealand and nearly equaled Wenona Girl’s prize money tally with only 9 wins to his credit. He was followed by Schillaci in 1992 and 1993, a fine sprinter that produced well above $2 million in winning 16 times.

No sprinter won the race twice consecutively from that point until Black Caviar came along to take the wins in 2011-2013 to do all of the previous repeaters one better. Mahogany did manage two wins with one year intervening. Those victories were in 1995 and 1997. That 19 time winner is interesting for his having been foaled in the United States of predominantly American and Irish stock with a bit of the great Canadians Northern Dancer and Nearctic thrown in for good measure. More information here on betting on this great event.

Some notable that won the race on one occasion would be Todman, Storm Queen, Redelva, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Apache Cat.

The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is an eagerly anticipated event of the early season portion of the Autumn Racing Carnival. It offers substantial prize money, a pure test of speed, and for those punters who prefer not to wait long for the outcome, a chance to learn the fate of their punt in less than a minute’s time