Imperatriz kicks off Group 1 racing at Flemington with spectacular win

17 February 2024 Written by VRC

More than 10,000 people flocked to Flemington today for the first Group 1 of the Flemington Racing Spectacular to watch wonder mare Imperatriz win her ninth Group 1 race in the $1 million Black Caviar Lightning.

The 70th running of the Black Caviar Lightning produced a thrilling finish as Imperatriz narrowly defeated Private Eye and Espiona for trainer Mark Walker and jockey Opie Bosson.

Other feature races included the Group 3 $200,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) won impressively by returning Penfolds Victoria Derby winner Riff Rocket and the $200,000 Group 3 The TAB Vanity (1400m) won by Grinzinger Belle. Riff Rocket is now a firm favourite for the $1 million Group 1 Howden Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday 2 March.

The day also played host to the popular Love Letter to Racing event presented by 3AW’s Ross Stevenson which saw UFC athlete Jack Jenkins, crime reporter John “Sly” Sylvester, Victorian Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Guerra and Karyn Fenton-Ellis of Te Akau racing, the ownership group behind Imperatriz. Each special guest read a letter describing what they love most about racing.

More than $13,600 was raised for the VRC’s 2024 Pin & Win charity partner Ronald McDonald House Charities Victoria & Tasmania during the first official race day to raise funds for the new charity partner. The proceeds raised from ticket sales to the Love Letter to Racing event as well as racegoers showing their support via Ticketmaster and on-course donations will go towards supporting families to stay at Ronald McDonald Houses and allowing them to stay close to their sick child during times of need.

Group 1 winning jockey and good friend of the Good Friday Appeal (GFA) Harry Coffey caused an upset win in the Listed The Elms Handicap (1400m) aboard Makram, paying $109. Coffey will be part of the fundraising effort for the Good Friday Appeal over the Flemington Racing Spectacular.

The return of the Flemington Fareground was also popular with eventgoers across all age groups enjoying the specially designed roller rink by Rolla Bae. The area also included family-friendly entertainment all day with carnival-themed rides, face painting, pony rides, lawn games and live music.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said a bumper crowd descended on Flemington for Black Caviar Lightning Race Day.

“We were delighted to welcome more than 10,000 people to Flemington and kick start the first of four amazing Group 1 Race days across the Flemington Racing Spectacular with Black Caviar Lightning Race Day,” Mr Rosich said.

“There was something on-course for everyone to enjoy from the spectacular racing, where it was a privilege to watch Imperatriz at her brilliant best, to the delicious food and wine across all venues and exceptional entertainment in the Flemington Fareground.”

“We look forward to a magnificent March with three Group 1 race days and more than $11 million prizemoney to be won across the Howden Australian Guineas Day, Super Saturday and TAB Australian Cup Day on the final Saturday of March.”

The 2024 Flemington Racing Spectacular continues in March on Howden Australian Guineas Day on Saturday 2 March, Super Saturday, featuring the Group 1 Yulong Newmarket Handicap on Saturday 9 March and concludes with TAB Australian Cup Day on Saturday 30 March.