SOUTH Australian gallopers punched above their weight on more than a few occasions during the Melbourne spring and three months later the script could be similar even though the cast might be different.
At least Goolwa-based trainer David Jolly hopes so. He has every reason to be optimistic that four-year-old mare Avoid Lightning can add to the Croweaters’ group 1 tally in Victoria if – or more likely, when – she contests the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield later this month.
The daughter of the now deceased stallion, Blevic, took the honours in the listed W.J. Adams Stakes over 1000 metres at Caulfield on Saturday.
Avoid Lightning ($3.50) came with a well-timed late run for jockey Craig Williams to beat Canali ($7) by a neck, with $2.70 favourite First Command a long head away third in a blanket finish in which just over a length separated all six runners.
Avoid Lightning is, by her trainer’s admission, not the best looking of horses. ”She’s not a very big mare and she’s got a bit of a sway back on her. She’s not a very pretty horse,” is Jolly’s rather blunt assessment. But her victory in the $120,000 event took her tally to six wins in nine starts, for a prizemoney tally of more than $200,000.
Her physical characteristics are in large measure why she is being aimed at rich but more difficult assignments across the border. In Adelaide her class would mean she is asked to shoulder big weights against inferior opposition, while in Melbourne she gets in with relatively light imposts (she shared the bottom weight of 54 kilograms on Saturday compared with First Command’s 60.5 kilograms).
Still, she did the job in style and Jolly is confident the extra 100 metres of the 1100-metre Oakleigh Plate will not be a problem. Neither would the weight, as she would be expected to get in with the minimum in that group 1 contest.
”We did have in the back of our mind that she may contest an Oakleigh Plate, where she would be down in the weights,” the trainer said on Saturday.
”She goes all right at Caulfield. The trip won’t hurt. I will have a chat to Craig. She will have nothing on her back and not being a big mare that tends to suit.
”We planned to run her in some better handicaps down in the weights.”
He said the mare’s unusual name came from a nightmare experience for her dam, Ya Michelle. Michael Abdallah, who owns Avoid Lightning, bought her mother and had planned to campaign her but she injured herself during a storm and never made it to the track.
”She damaged a hock in a thunderstorm, [and] went over a couple of fences. Mike, when he bought her, did so with the intention of breeding from her. Maybe it was meant to be,” said Jolly.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.