Crowds flock to Flemington for first Group 1 of 2023

18 February 2023 Written by VRC

Twelve thousand people flocked to Flemington today for Black Caviar Lightning Race Day to watch Coolangatta upstage her rivals to win the $1 million Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning.

The world’s highest rated Group 1 sprint race saw Coolangatta make it back-to-back wins for three-year-olds in the Black Caviar Lightning. I Wish I Win and Bella Nipotina filled the placings while the world’s best sprinter Nature Strip ran sixth.

Earlier in the day, Elliptical produced a big finish to win the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m), a key lead up to the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday 4 March.

Elliptical is part-owned by AFL Premiership player Lachie Hunter who joined former AFL legend Jobe Watson as winning owners on the day, with Watson’s mare Annavisto winning the Group 3 Tony Bourke Memorial (1400m).

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) acknowledged the recent passing of Deane Lester with flags at half-mast while the Victorian Jockeys Association showed their respects with all riders in race 3 wearing a black armband. Deane will be permanently acknowledged though the renaming of the Deane Lester Flemington Cup, a race close to Deane’s heart that is run in July every year at Flemington.

Jockey Jye McNeil paid tribute to his close friend and mentor Deane Lester by sporting socks with Deane’s initials and speaking highly of him after winning race 1 aboard So You See.

3AW’s Ross Stevenson’s popular Love Letter to Racing event returned to The Peak, featuring a host of special guests reading aloud their ‘Love Letter to Racing’. Speakers included commentator Michael Felgate, racing expert John “Dr Turf” Rothfield, journalist and presenter Kate Watts, and racing analyst Michael Sharkie.  Champion jockey Craig Williams also delighted guests with a surprise appearance at the event where he spoke about his passion for racing and respect for the horse.

More than $14,000 was raised for the VRC’s 2023 Pin & Win partner Australian Childhood Foundation at the Love Letter to Racing event, kickstarting the fundraising for this year.  Last year’s partnership raised nearly $500,000 for the foundation.

Today was an historic day with the first World Pool on any Australian meeting. The World Pool coincided with Flemington welcoming guests from the Asian Racing Conference.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said Black Caviar Lightning Race Day showcased the best of Flemington.

“Black Caviar Lightning Race Day exceeded expectations with 12,000 people at Flemington to enjoy sunny skies and world class racing,” Mr Rosich said.

“The race day paid tribute to some special people in Deane Lester and Tony Bourke and raised more than $14,000 for the Australian Childhood Foundation and we thank participants and guests for their support.

“It sets the scene for a huge month of racing at Flemington in March with the Flemington Racing Spectacular featuring Australian Guineas Day on Saturday 4 March, Super Saturday on Saturday 11 March and TAB Australian Cup Day on Saturday 25 March.”

Living Legends Silent Witness and Good Ba Ba were popular with visitors young and old, while there was plenty of other entertainment to be had on the Front Lawn with face painting and lawn games.

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.