State of Origin may be dead in the AFL but it’s well and truly alive on the racecourse this weekend at Morphettville when South Australia’s future star, Sunlight takes on Victoria’s boom horse, Nature Strip in one of the most anticipated feature races in years.
In the ‘tri-colours,’ we have the Tony McEvoy trained Sunlight, who has never missed a place in her short career which features five wins and two third placings from seven starts. She’s already amassed a whopping $2.5 million in prizemoney, is a three times Stakes winner and ran third in the Group 1 Golden Slipper.
Wearing the ‘Big V’ will be Darren Weir’s Nature Strip. His record includes six wins and two seconds from nine starts, including a last start Listed win. His only ‘failure’ has come at Morphettville where he finished fourth in the Group 2 Euclase Stakes in May behind I’ll Have a Bit.
These two horses will be aiming to join a prestigious group of sprinters and money earners including Augusta Proud, Kulgrinda, Avoid Lightning, Wild Rain, Viddora and last year’s winner Bandipur.
Looking back on recent history it is going to be very hard to split these two as they turn the corner on Saturday with the stats pointing to a battle for the ages that is going to go down to the final siren.
In the last nine years since the race has moved to Morphettville, the girls have been dominant winning six of the nine races. This bodes well for Sunlight, however, only one two-year-old has won the race in that time, which happened to be Bandipur in last year’s edition.
Positive news for Nature Strip is that three Lightning Stakes winners have been last start winners, while four winners of the race have won first-up which is good news for Sunlight.
Interestingly, despite both trainers recently dominating races in South Australia, neither Darren Weir or Tony McEvoy have won the Lightning Stakes. There is a slight advantage to the crow-eaters as five of the last nine winners have been trained in South Australia, which potentially gives Sunlight a slight upper hand in Saturday’s big race.
While the bookies have the Lightning Stakes pegged as a match race between the two future superstars of the turf, there will be plenty of depth to the final Stakes race of the season.
McEvoy’s two other runners in Belzella (third in the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate) and Lake District Girl (fourth in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude) have plenty of class about them as does Wayne Francis & Glen Kent’s Fancy Rumble who ran second in the Listed Redelva Stakes.
Whatever the outcome is on Saturday, this race is set to be worth the admission price alone as there is a huge chance we’ll be seeing two of the next big stars in thoroughbred racing at Morphettville.
Photo: Darren Winningham