While connections of the hulking Hay List have confirmed he won’t shy away from the challenge of taking on Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington this Saturday, a number of other Lightning defectors will add even more interest to next week’s Oakleigh Plate 2012.
Set to return after a lengthy spell, Hay List looks fighting fit and ready tackle the queen for round five in their long-running rivalry despite rumours he may have missed this weekend’s clash and be saved for the $350,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes Day Saturday week.
The nine-horse $750,000 Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) field released on Wednesday, however, was missing seven of the original nominations.
Two of the most notable non-acceptors for the Lightning will go via the alternative path considered for Hay List and contest the 2012 Oakleigh Plate on the 25th.
It is shaping up as a scintillating Oakleigh Plate showdown this year with Peter Snowden’s superstar colt Sepoy to resume racing for in the handicap.
Along with the Dubai-bound Sepoy who was last seen winning his fourth Group 1 race in the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day, the Oakleigh Plate field will also feature Jason Warren’s excitement machine Bel Sprinter.
The classy four-year-old son of Bel Esprit, the same sire that produced world class mare Black Caviar, resumed after a five month break to win the Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago.
That was Bel Sprinter’s fifth win from six starts to date, their sole defeat behind a head-away second to Lone Rock in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington last September before they went to the paddock.
Lone Rock is an $81 outsider in the Lightning Stakes this weekend.
Thanks to the surprise acceptance of Black Caviar into the Lightning Stakes field, the Oakleigh Plate will be even stronger with the Michael Moroney-trained African Pulse and Facile Tigre now on their way.
Queensland galloper Facile Tigre, winner of a Melbourne Cup Day black-type last time out, impressed Thornhill Park trainer Jason McLachlan with a jumpout at Flemington last Friday and will resume in the Oakleigh.
McLachlan is still represented in the Lightning Stakes on Saturday, however, as his former Golden Slipper champ Phelan Ready goes out as a $151 roughie at Luxbet against Black Caviar ($1.12).
Meanwhile Flemington horseman Michael Moroney is looking forward to the second-up run from his promising three-year-old African Pulse after deciding against the Lightning in favour of the Oakleigh.
The Johannesburg colt hit the headlines when defeating Karuta Queen in the Schweppes Tonic (1000m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day at just their third career start.
They also won first-up against a decent field to win over 1000-metres at Caulfield on January 26 and is reportedly doing well.
“He’s got plenty of time to run at weight-for-age and so we’ll wait a week with him and kick off in the Oakleigh Plate,” Moroney said this week.
“The fact he did win so well down the straight and it is his home track will be taken into account, but he did win well at Caulfield last start.
“He is a colt with a potential future at stud, so we need to look after him.
“He is a young horse who has had just four career starts, so we don’t want to ask too much of him at this stage of his career.”
To get in on the Lightning Stakes Day betting action this Saturday and access the autumn Group 1 future markets, visit Luxbet today.