Three-year-olds a Lightning force
Three-year-olds Home Affairs and Profiteer may traditionally profile well for the $1 million Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m), but they will have to break a hoodoo stretching back almost two decades if they are to take out Saturday’s sprint.
Since the Flemington feature was established in 1955, 22 three-year-olds have taken the prize – more than any other age group.
Among their number are names like Sky High (1961), Storm Queen (1967), Begonia Belle (1968), Cap D'Antibes (1975), Placid Ark (1987), Zeditave (1989), Schillaci (1992), General Nediym (1998), Testa Rossa (2000), Choisir (2003), Regimental Gal (2004) and Fastnet Rock (2005).
Since that run of three straight winners from 2003 to 2005, though, no three-year-old has managed to win the Black Caviar Lightning.
Six colts and geldings have managed to place - God's Own (2nd, 2006), Wanted (2nd, 2010), Shellscrape (3rd, 2010), Brazen Beau (2nd, 2015), Japonisme (3rd, 2016) and Star Turn (3rd, 2017) – but none have managed to take the prize.
Not only that, but in recent years it has been the three-year-old fillies who have performed better, with placegetters like Sunlight, Loving Gaby, September Run and Swats That.
This year, it will be up to the boys to break the long run of outs for the youngsters in what shapes as one of the best Black Caviar Lightnings of them all.
Like the last two colts to win the Black Caviar Lightning – Choisir and Fastnet Rock – the Chris Waller-trained Home Affairs will join the Coolmore stallion roster at the end of his career. And, just as Fastnet Rock did in 2005, Home Affairs will sport the Coolmore navy blue in his quest for glory.
Whereas both Choisir and Fastnet Rock had beaten the older horses at their one attempt previously, with both taking out the race that is now the Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes (1200m), Home Affairs was beaten into ninth in The Everest (1200m), finishing behind his Flemington rivals Nature Strip, Masked Crusader, Eduardo and Gytrash.
It’s a similar case for the Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-prepared Profiteer, who finished sixth in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) behind another Black Caviar Lightning runner in The Inferno.
Tom Magnier, representing Coolmore, admitted that it’s going to be a challenging test for Home Affairs as a three-year-old, but that he hopes he proves he is up to the challenge ahead of a global campaign later this year.
“As far as colts go, I think Home Affairs is the best three-year-old colt in Australia and one of the most exciting colts anywhere on the planet,” Magnier told SEN’s Andrew Bensley. “We know it’s not going to be an easy ask, it’s a hell of a race, but we’re there, we’ve got a horse that’s a top sprinter with James McDonald and the Chris Waller team behind us, so we go there with a chance.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable race, it’s going to be one of the most exciting races I’ve seen in my time in Australia. The build-up will be exciting and we’re just delighted to be a part of it.”
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Executive General Manager Racing Leigh Jordon said the Black Caviar Lightning was the perfect opportunity to witness this clash of the generations.
“The autumn is when we get to see these exciting contests between the three-year-olds and the older horses, particularly in the Black Caviar Lightning and the Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap,” Mr Jordon said. “The three-year-olds are nearing their peak and they still get weight relief at weight-for-age, so the timing is perfect.
“The clash of Home Affairs and Profiteer with some of our top sprinters like Nature Strip, Masked Crusader, Eduardo, Gytrash, The Inferno and Swats That is set to be one of the races of the season and we are honoured to host such a monumental race at Flemington.”
Image caption: Fastnet Rock was the last three-year-old to win the Black Caviar Lightning in 2005.