Unbeaten champion Black Caviar is likely to have no shortage of rivals when she tries to win her second Lightning Stakes at Flemington and post a record equalling 19th race win in a row.
Saturday’s Group One 1000-metre sprint has attracted 15 challengers for the super mare with trainer Peter Moody daring to back her up after her annihilation of last Saturday’s Orr Stakes field at her first 1400-metre test.
On Monday Moody’s stable manager Jeff O’Connor said her chances of running were looking good after regular post-race inspections by her vet and chiropractor were all positive, paving the way for connections to pursue a defence of her Lightning Stakes crown.
“She has pulled up super,” O’Connor said.
“We’ve nominated her today with the intention of running on Saturday if all progresses well this week.
“We have up until Saturday morning to decide if she runs, but the signs are all very positive at this stage and we are pressing on with the intention of running her.”
The prospect of backing up Black Caviar for the first time and bringing her back from 1400 to 1000 metres in the Lightning is the most daring challenge yet.
Moody has raced Black Caviar relatively sparingly but he is now looking at running her three Saturdays in a row with the Group One Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield seven days after the Lightning.
Black Caviar hasn’t run more than five times in a campaign, which was last autumn, and with the Lightning included, the Futurity would be her fourth run this preparation.
Should she win her next two starts she will eclipse the Australasian record of 19 successive wins by Gloaming and Desert Gold which has stood for nearly 90 years.
Moody is backing Black Caviar to be more resilient than previous campaigns with his plan to take her overseas.
Dubai and Royal Ascot beckon but Moody describes Black Caviar as “high maintenance” and whether he can get her there remains to be seen.
Among Black Caviar’s chief rivals entered for the Lightning is Hay List who has run second to the great mare in three of their four clashes and got her chasing when she ran him down in the Group One T J Smith (1200m) at Doomben.
He also ran second to her in the last year’s Lightning when beaten 3-1/4 lengths and again when beaten two lengths in the Group One BTC Cup (1200m).
Moody has entered Black Caviar’s stablemate Curtana in the Lightning after her last start four-length fourth to her in the Group One Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) in November.
Buffering, who was second in that race, is also among the entries for the Lightning along with exciting three-year-olds Foxwedge and African Pulse who both won jump-outs at Flemington last Friday.
Facile Tigre, Metallurgical, and Sister Friday all finished behind African Pulse in his jump-out and have been nominated for the Lightning as have Halle Rocks, Temple Of Boom, Lone Rock and Phelan Ready who were all beaten by Foxwedge.
Creating interest is three-year-old Smackdown, the least experienced of the Lightning entries, who won his only start over 1000 metres at low-grade Tauherenikau meeting in New Zealand a week ago.
Now trained by Austy Coffey at Swan Hill he faces a task of beating Black Caviar at only his second race start even though he ran a slick 56.22s on debut.