On Saturday, prolific trainer David Hayes secured the first Group 1 race for 2010 in Australia when his four-year-old sprinter Nicconi claimed victory in the $500 000 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington.
Nicconi ($5) ran strong down the centre, overcoming his wide barrier draw to come from last to first, defeating the Peter Moody-trained Wanted ($9) by a long head with Shellscrape ($9) a length back in third.
Moody?s other two entrants, Headway and Duporth finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The victory was Nicconi?s second Group 1 victory and brought his career record to six wins from 13 starts. The son of Bianconi is quickly closing in on the $1million stakes earnings, having now won $988 450 in prizemoney.
It was the fifth Lightning Stakes victory for Damien Oliver, the champion hoop who was aboard Nicconi for Saturday?s win. Oliver?s previous Lightning Stakes wins were on Schillaci (1992 & 1993), Gold Ace (1996) and Testa Arossa (2000).
Hayes? victory was made even sweeter as he had previously been forced to scratch his top filly Irish Lights from the Lightning Stakes by her owners Coolmore Stud.
Coolmore Stud also own Starspangledbanner, who started the race as the $3.90 favourite, after purchasing the three-year-old Choisir colt the night before the race for a pricey $10 million and did not want both running in the same race.
Recent winner of the Caulfield Guineas winner, Starspangledbanner could only manage fourth on the day, finishing a nose back from third placegetter Shellscrape.
Despite a disappointing finish, Cannonball still made history in the Lightning Stakes on Saturday, the ninth placegetter becoming the first US trained thoroughbred to compete in Australia.
The Anthony Cummings-trained Sister Madly was also scratched from the race, leaving only 11 horses contesting the Group 1 feature.
Cummings did have some success at the coveted meeting, however, when his runner Tallow took out the Group 3 The Vanity.
Hayes now has international plans for his Lightning Stakes winner, with Nicconi expected to race in both Dubai and England later in the year.
2010 Lightning Stakes Results:
|David Hayes||Damien Oliver|
|Peter G Moody||Brad Rawiller|
|Chris Waller||Corey Brown|
|Leon Corstens||Danny Nikolic|
|Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen|
|Peter G Moody||Steven Arnold|
|Anthony Cummings||Tim Clark|
|Barry Baldwin||Shane Scriven|
|Wesley Ward||Patrick Valenzuela|
HONEST TRUTH (NZ)
|John P Thompson||Michael Rodd|
|Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy|