Black Caviar takes centre stage in the Lightning Stakes
IT SEEMS the eyes of the world will be focused on Flemington today and not just because of the return to racing of wonder mare Black Caviar.
Interest in the unbeaten superstar extends well beyond Australia.
And racing experts from England will be watching when the Peter Moody-trained mare makes her comeback in the $500,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
Today's race will be Black Caviar's first start since her run at Royal Ascot last June and she will be looking for her 23rd straight success.
But it seems those in the Old Dart would have been keen on tomorrow's race even if Caviar was not running.
"The Lightning Stakes is now recognised as the best sprint race in Australia all over the world, not just in Europe," Nick Smith, Ascot's head of Communications and International Racing, said.
"The form seems to be rock solid every year and most years the Lightning launches Australia's flagship sprinter on the world stage."
The Black Caviar Lightning is the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, which includes the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes (1000m) and the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m), and five times in 10 years the Lightning winner has won at Ascot five months later.
The Paul Perry-trained Choisir won the Lightning in 2003 and followed that up with success in the King's Stand Stakes-Diamond Jubilee.
Three years later Takeover Target prepared for a first trip to the UK with a win at Flemington before a win in the King's Stand followed up by a third in the Diamond Jubilee third placing.
Then there was Miss Andretti, who won the King's Stand in 2007 for Lee Freedman, while two years later Western Australia's Scenic Blast completed the Lightning and King's Stand double.
Of course, Black Caviar, who has won the past two Lightnings, last year travelled to England where she scored that dramatic win in the Diamond Jubilee.