Super-mare Black Caviar – the world’s highest rated sprinter – is set to return to racing at Flemington in the event now named in her honour, the Black Caviar Lightning (previously the Lightning Stakes) this Saturday, February 16.
Black Caviar has not raced since her nail-biting triumph at Royal Ascot last June and is looking at win number 23 in as many starts and her third consecutive Lightning victory.
Eight horses, including Black Caviar, were entered in the field of Australia’s only Group 1 over 1000m after final acceptances were taken at 10.00 am today (Wednesday).
Such is the significance of the horse to Australians, the VRC has gone to the drawing board to ensure Black Caviar’s fans – expected to attend in their thousands – enjoy a memorable day.
“Black Caviar’s return to racing is likely to double the expected crowd on Black Caviar Lightning Day,” said VRC CEO David Courtney.
“In addition to being able to witness the champion in action, the Club is planning a range of exciting entertainment experiences to celebrate the day and ensure it is memorable. It will be a day not to be missed.
“Transport, staff and catering arrangements have all been bolstered.”
While the raceday typically attracts around 10,000 racegoers, over 22,000 flocked to Flemington to witness Black Caviar’s 19th straight win in the race last year. The mare has not raced on Victorian turf for over a year and is expected to draw an even larger attendance this year.
Mr Courtney announced a host of celebratory initiatives, including:
· The actual saddlecloth – signed by Peter Moody and Luke Nolen – to be worn by Black Caviar on Saturday will be given to the best-dressed Black Caviar-themed racegoer. Roving judges will choose 10 finalists, who will all receive a Black Caviar merchandise pack and be invited to the Mounting Yard for the winner to be selected by a special guest
· Racegoers will receive free Black Caviar visors, fans and banners to help cheer on the record-breaking horse
· The specially created Black Caviar Precinct on the east end of the front lawn will feature:
o A special Black Caviar Walk of Fame with 22 displays profiling each of her victories to date
o A Black Caviar photo booth providing racegoers with a free memento of the day
o A Black Caviar nail bar will have fans’ nails painted in salmon and black for free
o Free live entertainment from cover band Popcorn from 2.40pm
· Racegoers will be able to take home a special souvenir racebook ($6), which offers the chance to win a trip to Royal Ascot flying business class with Emirates
· A 12-metre representation of Black Caviar’s salmon and black livery will feature on the Flemington Mounting Yard grass
· The new Schweppes Flemington Fling bar in the renovated Hill Stand will be serving a signature Black Caviar cocktail, the Caviar Blush. The refreshing mix of gin, Schweppes Agrum Citrus, lime juice, watermelon and fresh blueberries, served in a highball glass, provides a visual homage to Black Caviar’s famous silks
· Fans can win the Ultimate Black Caviar Lightning Prize through Triple M (visit http://www.triplem.com.au/melbourne/win/ to enter), which includes a meet and greet with trainer Peter Moody, watching the race from the Mounting Yard, hospitality for four people in the G1 Pavilion, luxury hotel accommodation for four, private transfers to and from Flemington, a $1000 TAB betting voucher, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label, a Schweppes Flemington Fling Kit and a Black Caviar Merchandise Pack
· Listeners of RSN, 3AW and SEN should tune in to win double passes to Black Caviar Lightning Day
The Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning is also the opening leg of the new G1 Sprinters Championship. The G1 Championship comprises three legs (in both sprinters and middle distance categories) and offers a lucrative TAB $1 million bonus to any horse that can win all three races, culminating at Flemington on Super Saturday, 9 March.
The new Schweppes Flemington Fling Bar in the Hill Stand and James Boags Deck Bar on the front lawn will be adding to the summer racing atmosphere, while families are welcome to pack a picnic (no glass or alcohol) and secure a trackside vantage point on the spacious lawns.
The free-to-join Phar Lap Club will be hosting a party for children aged up to 11.
The nine-race card, featuring four black type events, begins at 12.30pm and concludes at 5.50pm, with the feature Black Caviar Lightning at 4.30pm.
For those unable to make it to Flemington, Black Caviar Lightning Day will be broadcast on TVN (Foxtel/Austar Channel 522) and 7Two from 2pm-5pm.
General admission is $25 (adults), $20 (students) and $12 (pensioners) with children under 16 free.