Last season’s Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) winner Desert Lightning kicked off his four-year-old season with a slick performance in Saturday’s Dunstan Horsefeeds (1200m) at Pukekohe.
The son of Pride Of Dubai came into the $65,000 open sprint as one of the proven stars of the field. His Avondale Guineas victory in February headed a high-class three-year-old campaign that also featured placings in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), earning more than $290,000 in the prize-money along the way.
Desert Lightning had won a trial at Te Aroha earlier this month to prepare him for Saturday’s return, although he might have been expected to be looking for further, having finished outside the first three in his two previous 1200m starts. But the four-year-old gelding’s class shone through in emphatic style.
After jumping from gate five in a six-horse field, jockey Vinnie Colgan sent Desert Lightning forward to sit on the outside of the front-running Winning For All.
Desert Lightning took command at the top of the Pukekohe straight, kicking away and maintaining a comfortable lead all the way to the finish. Millefiori crossed the line in second, a length and a quarter behind the winner, with a neck back to Winning For All in third. Last-start winner Petrucci finished fourth as the $2 favourite.
Trained by Peter and Dawn Williams for Barneswood Farm’s Sarah Green and Ger Beemsterboer, Desert Lightning has now had 13 starts for three wins, four placings and $350,395 in stakes.
“That was a lovely run, we’re very happy with that,” Peter Williams said. “He was fresh up today and has a bit to go yet, so it was very encouraging.
“I think he’s grown up a little bit. He had a few little issues last season and things going wrong along the way, but he seems to have got over all those issues now. He raced kindly today and was always travelling well.
“We thought he might be a chance today when Vinnie got off Petrucci to ride him after his trial win.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a good start for the owners and good for the horse.”
Desert Lighting is nominated for the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton on November 15, for which the TAB now rates him a $6 chance.