History plays such an important part in racing. Landmark races dot the calendar like beacons guiding a pilot safely home. Good races consistently showcase good horses.
Saturday’s G1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington has stood the test of time. The honour roll tells us that only top horses win this 1,000-metre dash, as unlikely as that might seem to an outside world reluctant to celebrate speed as enthusiastically as Australians.
The fact that Black Caviar is mentioned in the race title tells you plenty. The race has class and proudly upholds a reputation. The Lightning is a prestige race, often won by horses who make their mark as stallions.
Todman (1960), Zeditave (1989), General Nadiym (1998), Testa Rossa (2000), Choisir (2003) and Fastnet Rock (2005) all proved themselves at stud after enjoying success on the racetrack. But others have contributed to the folklore of the race.
Mahogany (1995, 1997) was a gelding owned by Lloyd Williams and Kerry Packer. This eight-time G1 winner won the Victoria Derby, yet later in his career excelled at sprint distances, winning two Lightnings.
Can this year’s field produce anything of the calibre of those great past winners? I believe it can.
Flying Artie was well ridden when landing the G1 Coolmore Stakes at Flemington last Spring, and his trainer Mick Price is expecting improvement from the colt this time in.
Price felt that a lack of maturity was against Flying Artie earlier in his career but that he had now come of age.
In a relatively big field for a Lightning, Flying Artie finds himself in a cluster of well-fancied runners on the far side of the track — Star Turn and Heatherly are also there — while Faatinah seems certain to provide the speed on the grandstand side.
The Lightning winner will be courted by Royal Ascot officialdom in an attempt to gain a G1 Diamond Jubilee entry.
In Sydney, the two-year-old races step up a gear when a field of seven line up for the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes, over 1,100m at Rosehill.
John O’Shea thinks highly of the Godolphin runner Veranillo, who is unbeaten in two starts. Victory will see the son of Medaglia D’Oro move higher up the juvenile rankings but he can expect opposition from Khan and Lucky Louie, who both resume from a spell.