Snitz blitz in Lightning

Neil Werrett didn’t need Black Caviar to win Australia’s premier sprint race after all.

The prominent owner today saw Snitzerland, another mare from his monster team of horses, win the $500,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (100m) at Flemington.

It was the first running without the mare who now has her name attached to the race that she won three times since 2010 and Werrett said it was a thrill to again visit the Lightning winner’s stall.

“It’s been quite an amazing day,” he said. “To name a race after Black Caviar and then win it has been a real triumph.

“I can’t tell you how great a thrill it is.”

Snitzerland, a daughter of Snitzel who had twice finished runner-up at Group 1 level including the 2012 Golden Slipper, logged her maiden win at the highest level.

The Gerald Ryan-trained four-year-old showed her customary pace out of the barrier to share the speed with Bernabeu and while the spruik three-year-old dropped out shortly after entering the course proper, Snitzerland took control at around the same time.

The $5 chance dashed clear and although Shamexpress ($7.50) finished hard in a typically solid straight-track effort half-a-length was as close as the Newmarket winner got.

Samaready, the heavily-supported $3.10 favourite, was under pressure in the first half of the race but got going late to finish third, a further length back.

Pago Rock ($31) and Unpretentious ($18) both worked home well to finish fourth and fifth respectively in what appeared solid trials for the Newmarket Handicap.

Bernabeu ($5.50 to $4.80) failed to replicate his straight-track heroics from last year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival and finished a long last, while two-year-olds – Bugatty ($31) and Boomwaa ($17) – were never a factor, finishing eighth and 10th respectively.

The victory was the Group 1 win for Sydney-based jockey Brenton Avdulla in his native Melbourne and it said it made an already special day for the family even more significant.

“That was special,” the 23-year-old said, voice trembling. “It’s a special day today, my pop passed away just before I was born and it’s his birthday today, so it’s worked out alright especially to get my first Group 1 in Melbourne.”

“I knew that we were coming here today with a horse that was on song ready to go and I don’t think Gerald’s had her going any better, even when she ran in the Slipper.

“She’s just been doing everything right I think she’s improved definitely off what she did last prep.”

Snitzerland took her record to eight wins from 17 starts and lifted her career earnings to $1,874,500 with the Lightning win.

One of the first questions put to Werrett, who races Snitzerland with Steven McCann, after the race was whether she would get the chance to add to that at the Royal Ascot Carnival – at which Black Caviar won two years ago – but the part-owner said it “had not been discussed.”

The Black Caviar was the first leg of this year’s Global Sprint Challenge, which carries a $1 million bonus to any horse that can win selected races in three different countries.

“I’ll have a talk to Gerald,” he said. “We’ve got a few more things to win here first.”

The next of those could be the $1 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m), back at Flemington, on 8 March.

Story by Brad Bishop