Black Caviar Lightning Stakes: History, Past Winners and Key Information

Australia’s most talented sprinters descend upon Flemington each February to vie for glory in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.

They battle it out against some talented international raiders in a bid to secure the lion’s share of a $1,000,000 prize purse. It is an extremely prestigious race, so the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes always attracts a star-studded field of runners.

It forms the first leg of the Autumn Sprint Series, which is one of the key events taking place within the wider Melbourne Carnival. Read on to learn more about the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, its illustrious history, and the key stats and trends that have developed over the years.


History Of The Race

This race first took place back in 1955, when Gay Vista surged to victory. Apple Bay was triumphant the following year, and Copper Year saluted in 1957. The first dual winner was Australian Racing Hall of Famer Sky High, who won in 1961 and 1962, followed by two-time champion Wenona Girl in 1963 and 1964.

Maybe Mahal repeated the feat in 1977 and 1978, followed by River Rough in 1984 and 1985, and then Schillaci in 1992 and 1993 and Mahogany in 1995 and 1997.

No subsequent winners managed to repeat their heroics until Black Caviar, who secured famous victories in 2011 and 2012. She returned to win the race for a third time in 2013, making her the most successful runner in its long history. Her winning time of 55.42 seconds in 2013 was also a record.

To commemorate her achievements, the race was renamed the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes that year. Since then, its prestige has continued to grow. Subsequent winners include Snitzerland, Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua, Terravista, Redkirk Warrior, In Her Time, Gytrash and Nature Strip.


Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Race Info

The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is a Group 1 thoroughbred sprint held under race for age conditions. It takes place on the straight 1000m course at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne each February.

This race forms the first leg of the Autumn Sprint Series, followed by the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate, which is held over 1200m at Caulfield Racecourse on the third Saturday in February each year. The final leg is Australia’s most famous sprinting handicap: the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap, which takes place at Flemington on the first Saturday in March.

Sprinters that contest the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes often go on to compete in those two sprints, while they may also take part in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes in March. The William Reid Stakes is run under weight-for-age conditions, whereas the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap are handicap races.

Since 2005, the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes has formed the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. That helps it attract some of the world’s finest sprinters. The series had six races when it was inaugurated in 2005, but it has now increased to 10: the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo Racecourse in Japan, the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin in Hong Kong, the King’s Stand Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in the UK, the July Cup at Newmarket in the UK, the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan, the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington, and finally the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin.


Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Prize Money

The prize money for the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes had increased to $750,000 by 2021, but it will go up by 33% to $1 million in 2022. It is part of a wider $16 million boost for Victorian racing, following a significant growth in wagering.

The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes and the William Reid Stakes both increased to $1 million, while the Newmarket Handicap rose to $1.5 million.

“This additional investment is possible thanks to all within Victorian racing who have worked diligently to keep our sport safely going throughout the pandemic and it will most importantly help underpin 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs in our state,” said Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger. “This increase is also a reward for the owners who have remained loyal to Victorian racing despite months of lockouts and restricted access that have been required to ensure that we could safely continue racing during an unprecedented period.”


Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Notable Winners

Black Caviar is the most notable winner of the race that was renamed in her honour. She went unbeaten during her entire career, with 25 wins and prize money of almost $8 million. One of her greatest achievements was winning the Lightning Stakes three times in a row. She won the Lightning Stakes, the William Reid and the Newmarket Handicap in 2011, and returned to win the William Reid again in 2013.

Black Caviar won lots more Group 1 races in Australia and she went to the UK in 2012, where she famously won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Peter Moody. In 2013, she was ranked first in the World Thoroughbred Rankings. Black Caviar was Australian Racehorse of the Year and Champion Sprinter three times in a row from 2011 to 2013, and she was also named European Champion Sprinter in 2012. She retired in 2013, when she was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, having achieved a Timeform rating of 136.

Additional famous winners multiple champions Mahogany, Schillaci, River Rough, Maybe Mahal, Wenona Girl and Sky High, along with Placid Ark, Choisir, Fastnet Rock, Takeover Target, Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua, Redkirk Warrior, In Her Time and Nature Strip, all of whom went on to enjoy a great deal of success.


Black Caviar Lightning Stakes 2021 Winner

Australian Horse of the Year Nature Strip roared back to form with a superb win in the 2021 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. The six-year-old sprinter atoned for a spring of near misses with a devastating performance to salute for the first time since the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes in Sydney the previous autumn.

Jockey Jamie Kah delivered the perfect ride, and Nature Strip was able to hold off a late challenge from the rampaging September Run to win the race in 56.91 seconds. He had finished fourth the previous year, despite leading for the majority of the race, but he was not to be denied in 2021.

Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Stats & Trends

Since 2000, the average winning price for the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is $6.82. That is skewed by the three-year period of dominance that Black Caviar enjoyed, when she won at $1.28 in 2011, $1.10 in 2012 and $1.10 in 2013.

Low-priced sprinters have performed well in this prestigious race. Yet the favourite has only saluted seven times since 2000: Takeover Target in 2006, Miss Andretti in 2007, three wins for Black Caviar, and then Nature Strip’s win at $2.50 in 2021. If you go a little further back, there were 10 victorious favourites over the past 32 years.

The 2020 winner, Gytrash, was more of a long shot at $17.50, while In Her Time saluted at odds of $4.40 in 2019 and $10 underdog Redkirk Warrior upset heavy favourite Redzel the previous year. Second favourites have a strong record in the race.

The inside and outside barriers dominate this race. Since 2000, 15 of the 22 winners have come from barriers 1, 2, 6 or 7. Gytrash was in barrier 2 and Nature Strip came from barrier 1 to win in 2021.

Ten of the past 12 winners have won at Group 1 level prior to contesting the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.

Most recent winners have taken part in one of the major sprints held during Melbourne Cup week. Twenty-six of the past 32 winners were first-up in their preparations for the big race. For those that have already started their autumn campaigns, key lead-ups include the Group 2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley, the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield and the Listed Bill Adams Stakes.

Only three horses aged two have won the race since it began in 1955. The last three-year-old winner was Fastnet Rock in 2005. Mature sprinters tend to dominate, and female gallopers have a poor recent record. Sprinters that can sustain top gear throughout tend to flourish.


Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Betting

Visit the horse racing betting section at TopSport to see the runners and their odds for Black Caviar Lightning Stakes nearer the race or check out the futures section.

You can place a broad selection of bets on the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, including the win and the place. If you want to go for an exotic option, the exacta, quinella and trifecta are all popular bets on the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.

Just choose your preferred option from the menu at the top of the racecard: Win/Place, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, First Four or Quadrella. Click on any selection you like the look of to add it to the betslip, type in your stake and click to confirm the bet.