We have a cracking day of racing in store for us on Saturday February 20th headlined by the running of the 2016 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. Some of the best sprinters in the world will be lining up for a share of the lucrative prizepool and our resident horse racing expert @Tim_Tips is here to offer up his best horse racing tips for the day.
It's a case of quality over quantity in this year's edition of the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. Only seven runners are set to compete in the 1000m sprint worth $750,000, but those seven runners consist of five Group 1 winners, a Group 2 and a Group 3 winner.
History tells us that only one winner in the past 12 years has won at odds longer than $5.50, with Exosphere and Chautauqua the only two horses in that price bracket. Three of the seven horses entered (Exosphere, Japonisme and Kinglike) are three-year-olds, but there hasn't been a single 3YO winner of the Lightning since Fastnet Rock back in 2005.
Exosphere failed at his only attempt down the Flemington straight when he finished 4th behind Japonisme in the Group 1 Coolmoore Stud Stakes in October last year. The track came under heavy criticism that day, however, with a clear fastlane on the rail. It was also a soft track that day, unlike the Good track we are expected to be served up on Saturday, despite there being a chance of rain on Friday.
Let's take a look at each runner:
CHAUTAUQUA: Won 4 from 5 first up and finished 2nd on the other occasion. Has never finished outside the top 2 down the Flemington straight and has won his only start over the 1000m. He has become the dominant sprinter in Australia in the last 12 months. He finished 2nd behind Delectation in the Darley Classic but you could argue he was in the worst part of the track on that occasion. I think he is the winner here given his proven ability down the straight.
TERRAVISTA: Chautauqua seems to have had his measure in recent times but he did rediscover his best form last preparation after a disappointing one before that. He's won 5 of 6 first up so he'll be tuned up for this and $9 does seem a good each way price for him. I can see him running a great race, but more of a place chance in my eyes.
DELECTATION: Proved he goes particularly well down the straight when he won the Darley Classic ahead of Chautauqua and Terravista at the end of last preparation. My concern would be whether he will be slightly underdone first up. I see Chautauqua ahead of him but it honestly would not surprise me to see him win this so don't leave him out.
VA PENSIERO: Not good enough at this level. His best win has only come at Group 3 level and that was a long time ago. He's been off the track for 11 months but has had 3 trials leading into this, which have been good in fairness. Not expecting him to be very competitive here.
EXOSPHERE: Wouldn't be surprised to see him blow them away and really stamp his authority as a superstar, but I have a few queries. Obviously he failed at his only start down the straight, despite obvious excuses on the day due to the track. This is clearly his acid test and easily the best field he has competed against so I would rather be in Chautauqua's corner given his proven ability at this level and on this track.
JAPONISME: Incredibly went from a maiden win to a Group 1 win in the space of last preparation. His win in the Coolmoore Stud Stakes was impressive but he found the obvious fastlane that day which definitely helped his cause. He was spanked by Exosphere last prep before his Group 1 win which suggests to me he is still a level below those higher in the market here.
KINGLIKE: Interesting runner who has only had the 4 career starts. He was very green but very impressive when he took out the Group 2 Danehill Stakes first up last prep, and he was even worse when he failed in the Caulfield Sprint. Immediately went for a spell and returns here after a nice trial win. I think he's got a lot of talent and while he might not be a winning chance here, he might well perform well enough to suggest he can go on to big things this prep.
I have to stick with the horse that is proven at Group 1 WFA level down the Flemington straight. CHAUTAUQUA has never finished outside the top 2 when he's been at Flemington and the same can be said for when he is first up. He is the one they all have to beat. EXOSPHERE is obviously one that could win this and in doing so stamp his mark as a superstar, but he still must prove himself down the Flemington straight and this is the best field he's ever met. DELECTATION is one that I am not ruling out at all. His best racing comes when he is down the Flemington straight and Waller will have him ready to go. I'm not convinced 1000m is his best distance though. Interested to see how KINGLIKE performs in the deep end, while TERRAVISTA is proven at this level and can't be ruled out of running a big race fresh.
Group 3 race for the 3YO fillies over 1400m which sees the return of Oaks winner Jameka, and also the Melbourne debut of undefeated Perth filly Perfect Reflection for Darren Weir.
I'm really happy to be backing PERFECT REFLECTION here. As aforementioned, this filly has 5 wins from 5 starts, including a victory over star WA mare Delicacy in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic. Weir has a habit of getting horses having their first start for his stable to win and I see that being the case again here. 1400m suits her much better than the Oaks winner Jameka, and the long Flemington straight will work in her favour.
JAMEKA obviously stands out as the main danger according to the market, but I just wonder if she might be a bit flat footed over 1400m after winning over 2500m at her last start. She is a very, very good filly but I think Perfect Reflection will have her measure over 1400m. One horse that may be flying a bit under the radar is SACRED EYE for David Hayes and Tom Dabernig. She actually went into the Oaks as favourite but drifted heavily due to the Heavy track. Completely forget that run and look at her previous runs and those kind of performances bring her right into this.
The only other horse I see being competitive is DON'T DOUBT MAMA, who actually holds a victory over Sacred Eye over 1400m last preparation and is undefeated over the distance. Tony McEvoy doesn't send them over to Melbourne if they can't win so she should be thereabouts.
1st PERFECT REFLECTION
2nd SACRED EYE
4th DON'T DOUBT MAMA
Really good little race for the 3YO colts and geldings over 1400m and the market suggests it will be just as competitive as it seems on paper.
If you were on PALENTINO like we were last start then you simply can't jump off him. He was held up the entire straight and then got a check at the 100m mark which meant he went to the line without being let go. He draws to get a great run in midfield from barrier 5 and he looks to have an edge on the rest of these horses to me. Really happy to be backing him here.
One at double figure odds that I expect to be very competitive is BON AURUM for Ciaron Maher. He was another one that went to the line untested in the same race as Palentino, and he has a great record at both this track and distance. James McDonald is booked to take the ride and he seems good odds in my opinion. Expect LIZARD ISLAND to run a big race first up as well. He doesn't know how to run a bad race and he will be on speed from barrier 4. He may be looking for slightly longer but he performed well over 1400m last prep and he'll give a good sight out the front.
Others to include are READY FOR VICTORY who is always around the mark and ran a very good race first up, SOVEREIGN NATION who wears blinkers for the first time and TULSA who will be charging home late. The blowout could be GOLD SYMPHONY who had a few excuses last start after travelling wide and pulling up with mucus.
2nd BON AURUM
3rd READY FOR VICTORY
4th LIZARD ISLAND
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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