John McNair’s Statue Of Liberty gelding Hay List was scheduled to resume racing for the season in the $200,000 Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill this weekend.
After pulling up lame after a gallop on a firm track a fortnight ago, however, Hay List is almost certain to be saved for the 2011 Lightning Stakes instead.
The Lightning Stakes is the first Group 1 race held at Flemington during the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival and is set to run on February 19.
There are a number of earlier autumn features that serve as a good lead-up for the Lightning Stakes including the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) and the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
However, the majority of Lightning Stakes winners from the past two decades won the race first-up for the season, a good omen for Hay List and for punters that are keen to back him in the Lightning Stakes betting markets at Luxbet.
“Most of the past 20 winners of the Lightning Stakes have won the race first up so that is likely to be the way we go now,” McNair stated.
Last year the 2010 Lightning Stakes was won by the David Hayes-trained Nicconi, resuming after a 12 week spell before which they had run dead last in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic.
Other Lightning Stakes winners that claimed the Group 1 feature at their first autumn start include Apache Cat (2008) and Miss Andretti (2007), Lee Freedman’s brilliant mare who won the Lightning Stakes / Australia Stakes / Newmarket Handicap triple four years ago.
Hay List will face some tough competition in the sprint.
Also expected to run in the Lightning Stakes field this year is Peter Moody’s unbeaten mare Black Caviar, who crushed Hay List by over 11 lengths last start when the pair had their debut clash in the Patinack Farm Classic back in November.
Black Caviar will also be first-up for the season and as Australia’s top-rated sprinter undefeated in her eight career starts to date, the Bel Esprit four-year-old should start odds-on favourite.
The nominations for the Lightning Stakes will close on February 14 followed by the 2011 Coolmore Lightning Stakes final field of acceptances on February 16.
Be the first to view the field, form guide, barrier draw, odds and Lightning Stakes betting tips by bookmarking Races.com.au and ensure you get the best price on every autumn race by signing up with Luxbet today!