Lightning Stakes Day Flemington - February 15

C.S. Hayes Stakes (MR6)

A hot field of three-year-olds contest this Group 3 event over 1400m, even with Victoria Derby winner Polanski battling a skin condition. A number of stayers that finished behind Polanski in the Derby like Criterion, San Diego and Epic Saga are resuming. I think they’ll get run off their feet early, but watch for them late. The Quarterback looks hard to beat after a slashing third behind Gai Waterhouse's rising star Bull Point at his return to racing. South Australian Hucklebuck was also impressive winning at Morphettville first-up and did run a close second to Paximadia in the Carbine Club at Flemington in the Spring. Prince Harada has to overcome a wide barrier second run back from a spell, but might struggle to haul in The Quarterback after their respective runs last time out. Just out of maiden class, Peter Moody's Mahican might run a cheeky race at juicy odds.

Selections: The Quarterback, Hucklebuck, Prince Harada, Mahican

Black Caviar Lightning (MR7)

With trainer Mick Price announcing that his class mare Samaready is over respiratory issues, punters have launched into the Blue Diamond winner of 2012. The four-year-old daughter of More Than Ready has already won two races at Group 1 level, including a dominant four-length success over Buffering in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley last September. She has also won over the track and distance. Drawn gate four, Craig Newitt should be able to give her a perfect run. While Samaready has looked good in a couple of jumpouts, Snitzerland was sensational in a Rosehill trial earlier this month. Gerald Ryan’s mare will give the field something to chase. John O’Shea’s Bernabeu is the spruik horse after a sizzling win over fellow three-year-olds at this course and distance in fast time in the Spring. The Fastnet Rock colt was sensational in a jump out last week, but just keep in mind he was beaten in a Class 2 at Kembla Grange two starts ago. The Group 1 sprint down the famous Flemington straight now carries Black Caviar’s name after her victories in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Her trainer Peter Moody is shooting for four straight Lightning’s with Brilliant Bisc after Thermal Current was scratched. Even with huge weight advantages, promising two-year-olds, Boomwaa and Bugatty, might not be seasoned enough to take on an elite field of sprinters. Unpretentious is a knock-out chance.

Selections: Samaready, Snitzerland, Bernabeu, Unpretentious

0-90 Handicap (MR8)

The third leg of the Quaddie looks wide open. Team Williams’ European import, Nevis, is having his first start in Australia and wouldn’t have to be a world-beater to take out this restricted handicap over 1700m. The four-year-old son of Dansili has won twice on wet ground and a bit of rain would help. Trainer Robert Hickmott has a habit of landing first-up kills with these imports, so watch the betting closely, especially if owner Lloyd Williams unleashes. Peter Moody’s race-fit mare Are There Any looks the danger. Dropping back from Open Class, Backstedt can atone for a poor last-start and does go particularly well on his home-track. The Big Steel can run a cheeky race second-up after finishing 5.8 lengths behind Solsay over an unsuitable distance of 1200m.

Selections: Nevis, Are There Any, Backstedt, The Big Steel

Open Handicap (MR9)

This is another tough race with plenty of chances. I have finally settled on Peter Moody’s Club Command, which is coming off a couple of runs in quality races in Queensland. This five-year-old son of Commands has been only been out of a place once in 15 career starts. He loves Flemington and 1400m. If Luke Nolen can get a bit of cover and sit just off the pace, then win number seven is a real possibility. Hai Lil steps out of mares’ class, drops considerably in weight, and with Michael Rodd to ride is a danger second-up. Look out for former Aidan O’Brien runner Foundry which is having its first start for Team Williams and Robert Hickmott. Darren Weir’s Our Hand Of Faith is an improver and can overcome a wide gate. 

Selections: Club Command, Hai Lil, Foundry, Our Hand Of Faith


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