McEvoy says age won’t hinder his Sunlight
TONY McEvoy is confident star filly Sunlight can handle the older, more seasoned Nature Strip in their highly anticipated clash in the $100,000 Listed Lightning Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
The Lightning showdown will mark the return to racing for the Magic Millions-winning two-year-old, while Darren Weir's Nature Strip is among discussions for a spot the $13 million The Everest in Sydney later in the year.
"She'll be there for the fight,'' McEvoy said on Friday. "She'll make him run hard.''
McEvoy said he couldn't fault Sunlight following her trial win at Morphettville last Thursday but conceded Nature Strip had a distinct fitness edge on his younger rival.
"I'm very happy with her,'' McEvoy said. "As I said before, I think she's a super filly good enough to win the race.
"Our advantages are she has the class and a light weight, but the disadvantages are the fact he's been racing all winter and we're first-up.''
Likewise, Weir says he can't fault Nature Strip, who is chasing his third straight win since joining his all-conquering stable.
"He looks magnificent and galloped well during the week,'' Weir said on RSN radio on Friday.
'She gets a weight advantage, but if he's going to measure up in better races he has to be running well.
"I don't think I've ever had a faster horse, and he does it with ease. Hopefully he can switch off and finish his race off well."
While the Lightning has been built as a race between Sunlight and Nature Strip, it will also showcase two of the rising stars of the saddle in Australia.
Damian Lane is the heir apparent to Craig Williams in Victoria, while Jamie Kah has quickly established herself as Adelaide's best jockey.
And the pair have remarkably similar records since 2013.
Lane has ridden 652 winners from 4256 rides, Kah 579 wins from 3375 rides.
Lane has a 22 per cent strike rate of runners to winner in combination for Darren Weir, while Kah and McEvoy strike at 32 per cent.
Nature Strip remains the most popular horse in Ladbrokes markets with two bets of $4000 at $1.75 and another $3000 bet at $1.80.
Former champion jockey John Letts said it was an intriguing match-up and another boost for the profile of Adelaide racing.
"I'm leaning towards Nature Strip,'' Letts said.
"He's the hard fit horse going into the race while Sunlight obviously still got a lot in front of her having only had the one trial back.
"It's going to be a great race.''