Ad The 2023 Darley Champions Sprint top 3 placegetters look set to clash in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning on February 17. (George Sal/Racing Photos)

Black Caviar Lightning likely’s

31 January 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

We’re only a couple of weeks out from the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning, so who is a chance to sizzle down the straight?

With the sprinting ranks having undergone a changing of the guard in the last couple of years, this year’s Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) should bring out some new blood and will certainly crown a first-time winner of the race.

In fact, there could be only one or two horses from last year’s edition, won by Coolangatta, that run in the 2024 Lightning, the most likely of which are Buenos Noches, Bella Nipotina and I Wish I Win, although the latter has been flagged to have a light Autumn which may rule him out.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five ‘likely’ Lightning contenders and their credentials.

Imperatriz was chased home by Buenos Noches and In Secret in the Darley Champions Sprint. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)


The star sprinting sensation announced herself as the best sprinter in Australia and perhaps even the world, losing just one race from nine starts in 2023, culminating with a win in the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) at Flemington.

Unbeaten over four Spring runs in Melbourne, including three Group Ones, Imperatriz’s Autumn campaign has already been flagged by Te Akau racing with the Lightning Stakes set to be the mare’s first up run.

She announced herself with a breathtaking win first up over 1000m, smashing Rothfire and Giga Kick, and now that she’s had a look at the straight, she’s undoubtedly going to be the raging favourite for the 2024 Lightning Stakes.

Buenos Noches

Speaking of Imperatriz’s win down the straight, Buenos Noches looks an obvious Lightning Stakes contender in 2024 given how well he’s run down the Flemington straight in the past.

A winner of the Listed Poseidon Stakes (1100m) as a three-year-old, the Matthew Smith trained entire has placed a further three times, running second to Giga Kick, third to In Secret and of course second to Imperatriz in the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) in the Spring.

He was very good in fifth, beaten just 2.2 lengths in last year’s Lightning and has gone on with it, proving himself one of the best sprinters in the country. He would be one of the better chances in this year’s edition.

Private Eye (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Private Eye

Joe Pride has signalled his intention to bring Private Eye back to Flemington to run in the Lightning Stakes first up. The six-year-old gelding won the Group 2 Shorts (1100m) first up from a spell last preparation at Randwick before going on to run a brave third in The Everest.

He seems to have found his place as a sprinter now but Private Eye has run over 1200m, 1600m and even 2000m at Flemington, running fifth in 2021 to Zaaki in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes.

His best effort at Flemington however came over a sprint trip, putting paid to multiple Flemington Group 1 winner Roch ‘N’ Horse in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) in 2022 with top weight of 60kg.

He’s a horse with a big turn of foot which is suited to the Flemington straight and although 1000m is likely going to be on the sharp side for Private Eye, he will be hitting the line as strong as any.

I Am Unstoppable (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

I Am Unstoppable

Prior to 2022, it had been a while (17 years to be exact) since a three-year-old had won the Lightning Stakes.

Coolmore Stud Stakes winning colt Home Affairs changed that when edging out stablemate and the previous year’s winner Nature Strip and if there were to be a three-year-old line up in this year’s edition I Am Unstoppable seems the likeliest.

His past three runs were all down the straight and he came so close to winning one, running second in all three attempts in the Poseidon, Danehill and Coolmore.

While no match for Ozzmosis on the day, I Am Unstoppable was his usual game self, running the fastest last 200m of the race and profiles as the sharp sort of horse suited to the Lightning Stakes, akin to Buenos Noches last year who brought a near identical profile.

While he’d need to improve again to be tackling the likes of Imperatriz, I Am Unstoppable appears one of the more likely three-year-olds to have a crack.

Bella Nipotina

The Group 1 winning mare won’t be running scared of Imperatriz, according to trainers Ciaron Maher & David Eustace. She’s run behind the ‘tangerine terror’ twice now, running second in the William Reid Stakes and fifth in the Champions Sprint but was very good in last year’s Lightning Stakes, beaten just half a length in third.

She’s now remarkably had 43 starts and proved that she’s going better than ever, flying home to beat Private Eye and Everest winner Think About It in the ‘Giga Kick Stakes’ at Rosehill just two starts ago.

Her effort in the Champions Sprint was very good, running the fastest last 600m and 400m of the race when only two lengths behind Imperatriz and the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes has already been flagged as her first up run.

Competition is what makes great racing and it will be fantastic to see Bella, along with these other top sprinters line up to face a horse like Imperatriz in the Lightning Stakes.