Stirling Grove Earns Shot at 2011 Lightning Stakes

Improving Morphettville galloper Stirling Grove is set to take on the likes of unbeaten mare Black Caviar and hulking sprinter Hay List in the 2011 Lightning Stakes after they produced an eye-catching jump out at Morphettville on Monday.

Mossman three-year-old Stirling Grove, prepared by Richard Jolly, finished second to Gordon Richard’s Bel Esprit gelding Belfast Boy in their 1000m trial yesterday morning.

It was a turning of the tables after Stirling Grove previously beat Belfast Boy in the Schweppes Tonic 1000 at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day last year.

First-up this season the highly talented Stirling Grove ran a close second to Broken in a 1000m sprint at Morphettville on January 22 and now has the $750,000 Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 19 as their next assignment.

Jolly has named the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12 as the chief autumn goal for Stirling Grove.

“His main aim is the Newmarket Handicap where he gets in really well at the weights,” Jolly said.

Stirling Grove is currently listed as a $31 chance in the 2011 Newmarket Handicap odds at Luxbet, early markets dominated by sprint queen Black Caviar paying a short $2.40.

In-form hoop Craig Williams, aboard for Stirling Grove’s Melbourne Cup Day victory, has been booked for the Lightning Stakes ride Saturday week.

The 2011 Lightning Stakes nominations will be released next Monday, February 14, followed by the final field of acceptors on Wednesday.

Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest Lightning Stakes news including our exclusive betting tips and don’t forget to sign up with Luxbet now to get the best odds on all the autumn showdowns!