The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is a $500 000 Group 1 weight for age race open to all horses. It is run over 1000m down the straight at Flemington every February.
It is the shortest Group 1 in Australia, with no other Group 1 races run over 1000m. It is the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, a series of races in Australia, Dubai, England, Hong Kong and Japan.
It was first run in 1955, when it was won by Gay Vista. From 1980 until 1986, it was run at Group 2 level, before it was upgraded to a Group 1.
The list of winners of the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes features some of Australia’s speediest horses. They include Todman (1960), Sky High (1961, 1962), Wenona Girl (1963, 1964), Storm Queen (1967), Dual Choice (1971), Century (1974), Cap D’Antibes (1975), Maybe Mahal (1977, 1978), River Rough (1984, 1985), Placid Ark (1987), Special (1988), Zeditave (1989), Shaftesbury Avenue (1991), Schillaci (1992, 1993), Mahogany (1995, 1997), General Nediym (1998), Choisir (2003), Fastnet Rock (2005), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007), Apache Cat (2008) and Scenic Blast (2009).
Australia’s best two sprinters of this era – Black Caviar and Hay List – ran the exacta in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, Black Caviar demolished the rest of the field, including Hay List. But 2012 was one of her most gutsy wins, as she was quickly backing up from the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) a week before.
In the last 10 years, the Lightning Stakes has become a good pointer to the two sprints at Royal Ascot in England in June – the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (5f/1000m) and the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f/1200m). Four Lightning Stakes winners – Choisir (2003), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007) and Scenic Blast (2009) – have won the King’s Stand Stakes, while two Lightning Stakes winners – Choisir (2003) and Black Caviar (2012) – have won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Both Cape of Good Hope (3rd, 2005) and Starspangledbanner (4th, 2010) won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes after running in the Lightning Stakes.
The Lightning Stakes is one of four big sprint races in Melbourne during the autumn, along with the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m), the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m). Many horses who will run in the Lightning Stakes will aim at one or more of these races after the Lightning Stakes.