Racing: Nicconi shines on day that will shape autumn markets

By Chris Riordan

The Lightning Stakes lived up to its reputation as a “good horse’s race” when Nicconi bloused Wanted with a whirlwind finish at Flemington. The roll-call has been enhanced by recent winners’ subsequent success abroad, and the Lightning victor looks suited to the pathway trodden by Takeover Target, Fastnet Rock, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast, which means a Royal Ascot campaign.

This meeting will require some serious revision as the form will help shape autumn markets.

The first winner, two-year-old Star Witness, won with authority and, barring Stewards’ Report revelations, looks to have his opponents covered in future battles.

I had two bets.  The first, Tollesprit in Race 2, cantered in after $4.40 was bet. This is a very promising horse but the fave, Captain Coltish, just might not be up to good city class.

Apprehend was confidently backed in the staying race and and bolted in. Tony Vasil keeps this horse grinding through an epic and successful campaign and punters rallied, with Macedonian, nominal favourite, unloved and dour but unworthy.

Our Aqualeem was a narrow winner of the mile. Big odds were bet and some of it was taken as this horse, first up for 30 months (!!), is a former English Derby placegetter and clearly a horse of substantial class. Remember Speed Gifted last year? Imports can run a big race fresh in the space at Flemington. $31 was bet and bookies were back!

Take The Rap’s defeat of the heavily backed Eraset had punters on the back foot heading in to the feature race, in which I backed Wanted ($14.5 with Betfair on Saturday morning) and so am cursing my (mis)fortune. Starspangledbanner’s owners will be happy to cash their $10 million cheque as the drifting fave couldn’t let down in the heat and Cannonball, specked in betting, was always just a learning curve for USA horses.

Burdekin Blues is a terrific horse, but is not Group 1, and I’ll need to watch this race again before drawing further conclusions on the rest, many of whom have other aspirations. Nicconi, though, fresh and classy, was a worthy winner.

The biggest “go” of the day was Tallow, which saluted in The Vanity. Unsure what to make of this form.

The last was won at good odds by Flying Monty, giving Peter Moody his first winner on a program for which he had great expectations. Some “smart” money meant Flying Monty was a loser in my part of the ring, but it was a good betting race. Renounceable was heavily backed so must have shown something and Starmon also gave notice of some form with betting moves.

Watch the replays from the meeting, as it was a pretty good card. Betting was disappointingly subdued in the ring and the honours fairly even.

The VRC promoted the meeting well but clearly don’t care whether or not punters come to the course: $20 admission, very few (and very poor) food outlets open, and a nonsensical Dead5 early reading!

Fortunately, though, Nicconi will add lustre to the Lightning Stakes’ glittering honour roll and entrench it as the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.


  1. note Five Card Stud from R2 and forget Speedy Natalie went around in the 7th. Heat may have contributed to some poor runs so look at stewards’ reports and, if you are at the races, go to the mounting yard.

  2. Crio,

    Great to have the gallops back on the waves in expectation of upcoming Melbourne and Sydney carnivals. I got on the Hayes import in the “Henry Bucks Best Dressed” as did Budge, but I feel particularly well dressed as I took the $34 the horse to win the Australian Cup. “Dressed Like Like a Nine” an old mate famously once said. We’ll see.

  3. Elvis,
    Typically a genius. Typically hitting form early. I’d forgotten the Speed Gifted lesson until half way up the straight…speed gifted had faded to mean either ex-Swannie Jamie Lawson or those zit-faces at the Big Day Out…of course the moral is to watch well-credentialled English horses fresh at Flemington, particularly when the odds are so attractive.
    Orr Stakes Day this week so it is heating up.
    Will you get to the Autumn Carnival at all?

  4. Crio,

    Thanks for the tag. I had a break at Xmas time but that seems like 15 minutes ago and I stayed here on Gilligans’ Good time of year for a break and if the favs in the Aust Cup don’t come up in the next few weeks, Our Aqhoweveryousayit might be a chance to pay the X’s. Never say never. Sounds like a plan. Had a good day at the Mecca some years ago when All That Mob and Starstruck ate chocolates. I’ll see if I can cover stable bills in advance, check out cheap air fares, see how the family is travelling, and let you know.

  5. Elvis,
    The great m.mitchell esq is in town early March for the Yearling Sales as Tattersalls’ rep so even more incentive to check those cheap fares. Otherwise, keep us up to speed with your inventive selections.
    after the Carnival my next racing port-of-call will be Oakbank!

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