The Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) takes place at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse annually in mid-February and is a premier weight-for-age sprint race.
With a $500,000 prize fund, it attracts the country’s sprinters, with most looking to target the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) held at the same course three weeks later.
Although the Lightning Stakes is the feature race on the card, the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) and the Group 3 The Vanity Stakes (1400m) add to a fantastic day of racing.
Due to public perception of 2011 winner Black Caviar, the Melbourne Racing Club renamed this race the 'Black Caviar Lightning' for the 2012/2013 racing season in honour of the champion mare.
There is generally no lead-up race to the Lightning Stakes, as most horses use it as a springboard to dive deeper into the Sydney and Melbourne Autumn Carnivals.
First run in 1955, the Lightning Stakes was won by Gay Vista and has since grown in stature to become one of the country’s most prestigious sprint features.
The long and illustrious honour roll lists the who’s who of Australian racing with the most recent winner being the all-conquering Black Caviar when winning her third successive Lightning Stakes in 2013.
Other notable winners of the Lightning Stakes include Todman (1960), Sky High (1961-62), Wenona Girl (1963-64), Storm Queen (1967), Cap D’antibes (1975), Placid Ark (1987), Special (1988), Schillaci (1992-93), Mahogany (1995 & 1997), Testa Rossa (2000), Choisir (2003), Regimental Gal (2004), Fastnet Rock (2005), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007) and Apache Cat (2008).