Pride of Dubai 4YO Desert Lightning Wins G1
Talented galloper Desert Lightning (4g Pride of Dubai x Isstoora, by High Chaparral) stood tall and claimed his first Group I victory in Saturday’s TAB Classic (1600m) at Trentham.
The $400,000 weight-for-age feature was drama packed as the auxiliary gates failed to open and the horses with the three widest draws – Faraglioni, Desert Lightning and Aegon – were left behind. Fortunately the remainder of the field all pulled up before the end of the back straight and were able to take their place.
It may have been an advantage to have avoided the exertion of the aborted first running of the race, but dwelling on that would be doing a disservice to Desert Lightning. He was one of the standout male three-year-olds of last season, winning the Group II Avondale Guineas (2100m) and placing in the Group I New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), the Group III Manawatu Classic (2000m) and a star-studded running of the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
He has come back strongly as a spring four-year-old, winning first-up at Pukekohe before finishing third on heavy ground at Tauranga. He stepped up on to the big weight-for-age stage on Saturday and showed that he belonged.
Rider Vinnie Colgan had to use up some petrol after Desert Lightning eventually left that wide gate, pushing forward to take up a position outside the front-running Town Cryer.
Desert Lightning swept past Town Cryer soon after rounding the home turn and held all rivals at bay to win by a length.
“It was unfortunate that we had the false start, and I imagine some of the other horses have tired legs now,” Colgan said. “But full credit to my horse. We had an awkward gate and I had to use him up early. He got off the nickel a little bit at the 600m and I was a little worried, but then he came back up underneath me again and made me feel a lot better.
“He’s a very good horse and was strong right to the line. I think if something else had got to him a bit earlier in the straight, it would have actually helped him. It’s pretty windy today and I was out in front all by myself, and he did start to lug the last little bit. But every time he felt the presence of a horse coming, he lifted again. He’s a very good horse.”
Desert Lightning is trained by Peter and Dawn Williams, who saddled Shuka for back-to-back wins in this race in 2013 and 2014.
The Byerley Park-based couple bought Desert Lightning for $150,000 from the Little Avondale Stud draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2021. He is raced by the Williams team’s long-time clients, Sarah Green and Ger Beemsterboer’s Barneswood Farm.
From 15 starts, Desert Lightning has now recorded four wins and five placings and earned $584,895 in stakes.
“That was quite exciting, really,” Peter Williams said. “I was a nervous wreck after the false start, but fortunately he stayed very settled at the barrier. People might say that it was an advantage that he didn’t get away in the false start, but a lot can go wrong when the gates don’t open too – they can hit their heads and things like that. So there are factors for and against.
“The owners are here today, so this is a great result. We’ll go home now and play it by ear in terms of the rest of his campaign.”
Bred by the Mahoenui Partnership, Desert Lightning is the best of three winners from High Chaparral mare Isstoora, an unraced daughter of stakes winning juvenile Murjana from the Twyla branch of the Redoute’s Choice family that has produced Group I winners Gathering, In Italian and Tom Kitten.
Isstoora was bred by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and was onsold at the 2019 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale for $90,000 to Bruce Perry Bloodstock and made her way to New Zealand with a positive test to Pride of Dubai and Desert Lightning was the result of the mating.
Desert Lightning is the fourth Group I winner for Pride of Dubai joining Pride of Jenni, Bella Nipotina and Irish bred Dubai Honour.
The dual Group I winning son of Street Cry is enjoying a great season and is up running seventh on the Australian General Sires List by earnings.