Coolangatta lightning sweeps Flemington race day card
Today’s sprinting stars were joined by topline performers of the past in honouring one of the greatest racehorses Australia has seen.
Nature Strip was the drawcard as ‘Living Legends’ and former Hong Kong greats Silent Witness and Good Ba Ba looked on with Group 1 action returning to Flemington for the $1 million Black Caviar Lightning Stakes down the straight 1000 metres.
Quality winner of the Lightning
It wasn’t to be for 2021 winner of the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, Nature Strip, with the Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace-trained Coolangatta notching her second win at the highest level.
Finishing fifth at her last start in the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival last November, Coolangatta stepped up and delivered.
“It’s massive, It is a great race to win. I’ve had some amazing support since I won the Lightning two years ago," winning rider Jamie Kah said.
While winning the Lightning is one lofty achievement, a Royal Ascot crown could be in the offing.
“From here the dream would be Royal Ascot for everyone involved, she’s shown she likes the straight and I think everyone in the group would be keen to go there,” Dave Eustace said.
Australian Guineas, obviously
The Australian Guineas (1600m) is the next stop for Elliptical after the ‘more mature’ three-year-old sustained an eye-catching sprint to claim the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m).
Elliptical will attempt to become the ninth horse to win his race and go on to claim the Guineas to be run at Flemington on March 4.
First-up since finishing seventh – less than four lengths from Zaaki – in the Group 1 TAB Champions Stakes (2000m), trainers Anthony and Sam Freedman thought that ‘toughening up’ is what Elliptical needed to do.
Anthony Freedman said the Champions Stakes contest was likely to have done just that. “We really just wanted him to be strong late and if we won that was great so to get up and do it points to good things,” Freedman added.
Freedman described the Guineas as “the obvious way to go”.
High value of experience up the straight
A summertime glimpse of a possible springtime performer came in the Listed TCL Talindert Stakes (1100m) as trainer Grahame Begg may direct Maharba towards the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) for three-year-olds on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day.
A winner at his second start, the two-year-old gelding could springboard off this Flemington victory to the upcoming Group 1 Golden Slipper task or the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes, both over 1200 metres in Sydney.
‘Ticking the box’ up the Flemington straight was a prime aim for Begg.
“Now he’s had the run up the straight, there was a plan to come here and get that experience because you never know later in the year, who knows, you never know he might be in the Coolmore,” Begg said.
Flemington form is good form
Group 1 performer Annavisto notched a 3½-length win in the Group 3 Tony Bourke Memorial (1400m) in a near carbon copy of the result in the same race twelve months ago.
Winning the 2022 edition by 3¼-lengths, the five-year-old mare took her record to two wins and one placing in five starts at Flemington.
Similarly for Scallopini winning the Listed HKJC Elms Handicap (1400m), a love affair with Flemington – as co-trainer Matt Hoysted described it - seems to show it as the eight-year-old’s happy place following up from his Listed Tontonan Stakes (1400m) win last September.
And in the final event, D’Jumbuck took out the World Pool Handicap (1200m) in a career highlight for trainer Brian McGrath.
The five-year-old helped McGrath overcome the pre-race nerves admitting that he was feeling the pressure to deliver again after D’Jumbuck won at Flemington on January 14.
Top players of the day
Damian Lane took out the riding honours with three winners while Jamie Kah and Blake Shinn each notched a double.
There was no dominant trainer on the card with all nine races won by different stables.
Don't miss out on your chance to witness Australia's best three-year-olds at Flemington on Saturday 4 March for the time-honoured Group 1 Australian Guineas. Find out more and book your tickets to Australian Guineas Day. This is one race day on the calendar that you won’t want to miss.