By Nicholas Godfrey
Flemington (Australia): Black Caviar Lightning Stakes G1 A$750,000 (£420,000) 5f, turf, 2yo+
Nature Strip (Chris Waller/Jamie Kah)
Jamie Kah, the world’s highest-ranked female jockey landed the fourth G1 triumph of her burgeoning career at the head of a Chris Waller one-two as star sprinter Nature Strip rediscovered his best form in Melbourne’s top 5f contest.
“I’m a bit emotional,” said Kah, currently leading the Melbourne metro premiership jockeys’ race. “Just to get on a horse of that calibre. I’ve been very lucky to get Group 1s so far but to get on a horse like him and for Chris Waller … I couldn’t imagine it and to get the job done is amazing.
“He’s just unbelievable,” she added. “I wish mum and dad could be here today. It would have been awesome. They had a table by the winning post and they would have been there cheering me on. What a horse – unbelievable!”
Having tracked trailblazing Pippie, the six-year-old took over a furlong and a half out and then held the late run of stablemate September Run by a half-length despite drifting across to the far rail.
It was the Nicconi gelding’s fifth G1 victory, but the reigning Australian Horse of the Year hasn’t won a race of any kind since the TJ Smith Stakes at last year’s Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Another to emerge with credit was Fabergino, who raced alone on the near side and was prominent throughout before finishing fourth, one place ahead of Godolphin’s beaten favourite Bivouac.
Jockey Glen Boss said the latter, who had beaten Nature Strip in the spring, couldn’t go the early tempo and would improve for this first-up run.
For a decade after the turn of the century, the Lightning was a major influence on Royal Ascot with Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast and Black Caviar all having gone on to success in Britain.
Shall we talk about it?
Jo Taylor (trainer Chris Waller’s representative): “We’ve seen him sometimes struggle at the 1,000 metres first-up especially at Group 1 level. Jamie was nice and patient. We knew there’d be a lot of speed on early with Pippie and she bided her time and got him going at the right time and kept him kicking.
“He obviously had a few things go wrong in the spring – just seemed to be a cluster of a few things. It was nice to see things go smoothly this autumn and he’s come here and produced the goods.
“He showed today exactly why he was Australian Horse of the Year. We didn’t quite see that in the spring but he’s come back here today and stamped his mark.”
Jamie Kah (jockey): “He’s just unbelievable – I just let him do whatever he wanted to do. Pippie set a nice hot tempo and he actually relaxed and dropped the bit. They’re going to do that when they run that quick but it just set up beautifully for him. He wanted to drift in and roll in a bit late but I didn’t really care. I just let him do what he wanted to do.
“He was in a good mood. I think he’s just getting better with age. They’ve found the key to him first-up, given him that extra trial and he has to be rock-hard fit to run because he runs at such a high cruising speed.