Talented mare Avoid Lightning returned to winning form with a strong victory in the 2015 Sapphire Stakes at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Avoid Lightning made a slow start to her 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with a third place finish in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 21 and a disappointing tenth in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m), but she relished the step-up to 1200 metres and the wet Royal Randwick track to record her third win at Group level.
Jockey Tim Clark elected to settle Avoid Lightning just outside the speed in the early stages of the Sapphire Stakes and he was thrilled to record another win on a mare that he has developed an outstanding association with.
“She has been a wonderful mare,” Clark said.
“She obviously had conditions to suit today being wet and I put her outside the speed today and they challenged her 300 out and Griante probably just got a margin on me inside the furlong, but she is all heart and she gave me everything she had and I am really proud of her.
“She is not very pretty to look at, but she has a big heart and she has just thrived since she has been in Sydney.
“This is the race that Les has targeted her at this whole prep, she got in really well weighted and it was just a matter of praying for a bit of rain to get a bit of cut in the track.
“She produced the goods for us.”
Les Bridge did not go as far as to label Avoid Lightning the favourite horse he has trained during his lengthy career – with that honor belonging to Group 1 winning sprinter Hot Danish – but he revealed that Avoid Lightning was easily the best wet-tracker he had seen.
The veteran trainer admitted that he was concerned when Avoid Lightning was settled so close to the speed, but he was delighted with the way that she toughed it out to the line.
“I have had a lot of good mares and I’ve trained horses for 50 years now, but she is the best wet-tracker,” Bridge said.
“Hot Danish was the opposite – she was good in the dry and that was the chink in her armor because she couldn’t handle the wet, so they are opposites.
“I got a shock and I wasn’t too happy to be truthful (when Avoid Lightning was settled just behind the leader), but the way that the track is playing I knew that Timmy didn’t want to be too wide on her and too far back.
“They didn’t go that hard and they gave her a pretty cheap run up there.
“She is just a quality mare and that is what they do.”
Griante produced another impressive performance this preparation and looked like the winner at the 200 metre mark, but was narrowly beaten by Avoid Lightning in the dog fight at the line.