SOUTH AUSTRALIAN gallopers punched above their weight on more than a few occasions during the Melbourne spring, with Paul Beshara’s Happy Trails and Jake Stephens’s Alcopop both scoring group 1 successes in the Emirates Stakes and Mackinnon Stakes respectively during the carnival.
Three months later it’s the Melbourne Festival of Racing, but the script could be similar.
At least Goolwa-based trainer David Jolly hopes so, and he has every reason to be optimistic that his progressive four-year-old mare Avoid Lightning will add to the crow-eaters’ group 1 Victorian tally, if – or more likely, when – she contests the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield this month.
The daughter of the late stallion Blevic took the honours in the listed WJ Adams Stakes over 1000 metres at Caulfield on Saturday, coming with a well-timed late run for Craig Williams to beat Canali ($7) by a neck, with the $2.70 favourite First Command a long head away in third, with just over a length separating all six runners at the finish.
”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,” was Jolly’s description of Avoid Lightning.
But handsome is as handsome does, and her victory in the $120,000 contest as a well-backed $3.50 chance took her tally to six wins in nine starts, for prizemoney 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 means she is asked to shoulder large burdens against inferior opposition. In Melbourne she gets in with relatively light burdens (she had bottom weight of 54 kilograms on Saturday compared to First Command’s 60.5kg), although her rivals are much tougher nuts to crack.
Still, she did the job in style and Jolly was confident that the extra 100m of the 1100m Oakleigh Plate would 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. She goes all right at Caulfield. 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,” Jolly said.
He explained that the mare’s unusual name was rooted in a nightmare experience for her dam Ya Michelle. ”She damaged a hock in a thunderstorm, went over a couple of fences,” Jolly said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.