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Despite jockey Luke Nolen declaring Black Caviar 100 percent for her assignment in the 2012 Lightning Stakes at Flemington this Saturday, the queen has drifted out slightly in her price to successfully win her second elite level in seven days.
Silencing the doubters that said Peter Moody’s magnificent mare, the highest-rated in the world, couldn’t go to 1400-metres, Black Caviar went out as the $1.04 favourite in last Saturday’s CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield and put three and a half lengths on Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed to win.
“She didn’t have a tough run by any stretch,” Nolen said of her breezy CF Orr victory.
There is now a very strong chance, 95 percent according to part-owner Neil Werrett, that the champion will back-up at Flemington this Saturday to seek successive wins in the $750,000 Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m).
To go to two Group 1’s in the space of a week and go down from 1400-metres to 1000-metres would look an impossible task for any other, but Black Caviar is like no other.
She unbeaten in 18 and out to equal the Australasian record of 19-straight on Saturday.
After the announcement that a fit and ready-to-fire Hay List will definitely be there to take on Black Caviar for a fifth time, her price has eased out from $1.10 to $1.12 in the Lightning Stakes odds at Luxbet.
Punters haven’t been able to ‘Black Flash’ at a price like this since the last time she met, and easily defeated, the John McNair-trained Hay List in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben last May.
Despite her drifting price, Black Caviar is still firm favourite to win with Hay List the next shortest-priced runner at $9.
While there is always a question mark over any favourite, regardless of how short they are or how many wins they come off, Nolen is bullish over his chances to win another Group 1 with his once in a lifetime mount.
“It is not holding any fears for us,” Nolen said of the notable distance drop.
“I think the fact it is run up the (Flemington) straight is only going to play to her strengths.
“She is effective around a corner but because she does take that big, long stride she’s quite special to watch up the straight.
“She goes like a bomb.”
At her last Flemington appearance the brilliant daughter of Bel Esprit secured her second straight victory in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) putting three lengths on Queenslander Buffering.
Buffering is back to take her on again also on Saturday, Rob Heathcote’s brave galloper a $51 roughie in the Lightning Stakes betting at Luxbet.
Nolen knows that coming off a sit-and-canter in the CF Orr Black Caviar will have to bring her speed on Saturday, but he isn’t worried as her scintillating sectional times speak for themselves.
“We are all expecting the Lightning to be run a lot quicker than her last few races, but she can run sub-11 second sectionals for the best part of a race,” he said.
“She gets horses out of their comfort zone through the middle stages and because she can sustain it for an extended period of time she has them all off the bit before we get to the clock tower.”
If he had to pick a danger in the field? Nolen named the obvious in Hay List.
“He’s the only one who has really made her stretch in the TJ Smith in Sydney and the BTC Cup in Brisbane and he looked pretty good winning a couple of trials earlier this year,” Nolen said.
“I have got a healthy respect for the horse but there is only one horse I will be worrying about and that is Black Caviar.”
While Hay List’s connections are heading into Saturday’s showdown with a high degree of confidence, Nolen said that he was more likely to peak a little later in his preparation.
“They are bullish but you can’t go into a race with a defeatist attitude I suppose,” Nolen said.
“(Hay List is) close enough to the mark but I am sure there is improvement in him whereas Black Caviar is pretty fit.
“She is probably fully developed now and being such a hulking mare probably needed that last couple of years to almost furnish completely.
“She is so big and strong she could do so much damage to herself when she let rip but a lot of those things are behind her now.”
Meanwhile another part-owner of Black Caviar, David Taylor, indicated that the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10 where Black Caviar would be handed at least 61kg had not been completely ruled out for her to reach double-digit wins.
“To win 20 and bet the record of 19 set by Zenyatta as I understand, for me and I’m sure it’s the feelings of Peter and the rest of us, that’s what we’d really love to do,” he said.
“We may have that opportunity here, in Victoria, in the Newmarket.”
But for now all the attention will be on the Lightning Stakes.
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