Desert Lightning (NZ) Breaks Through in Guineas

19 February 2023

After gallant placings in two of New Zealand’s elite three-year-old races, quality Karaka graduate Desert Lightning (NZ) (Pride Of Dubai) broke through for a well-deserved first stakes win in Saturday’s $140,000 Group Two AJC Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Pukekohe.

Bought by trainers Peter and Dawn Williams for $150,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2021, Desert Lightning has now had 10 starts for two wins, three placings and $284,520 in prize-money.

Desert Lightning (NZ) winning Saturday’s $140,000 Group Two AJC Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Pukekohe Park
Photo: Trish Dunell

A debut winner as a two-year-old in February of last year, Desert Lightning had two subsequent starts that season for fourth placings in the Group One Sistema Stakes (1200m) and Group Three Matamata Slipper (1200m).

He has continued to be close up against the very best of his generation at three, finishing second in the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), third in the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), an unlucky fourth in the Group Two Sarten Memorial (1400m) and a close fifth in two other stakes races.

The step up to 2100 metres brought the breakthrough on Saturday. Given a well-timed ride by Vinnie Colgan, he settled nicely in midfield before angling to the outside and surging into contention at the top of the long Pukekohe straight.

He was matched every step of the way down the straight by his high-class former stablemate Waitak (NZ) (Proisir), and the pair fought a desperate head-bobbing battle through the last 200 metres.

But Desert Lightning pulled out that little bit more, edging out Waitak by a head at the finish line. The rest of the field was headed by the third-placed Warsaw (NZ) (Vadamos), who finished almost three lengths behind the first pair.

“Settling and figuring out how to get the 2100 metres were the main things we had to do today,” Colgan said. “He did that perfectly and had a good, tough finish.

“They went pretty slow through the first half and picked up at the half-mile, but I was on the back of the right horse (Waitak) at just the right time.

“He has solid form and has been a bridesmaid behind some very smart horses in the past.”

Saturday’s impressive performance saw Desert Lightning move into third favouritism behind Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood) and Prowess (NZ) (Proisir) for the Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Te Rapa on March 4.

“Everything went well and I’m just so pleased,” Peter Williams said. “I’ve stuck with Vinnie all the way through, and I am just rapt to win this race. There’s a way to go yet to the Derby, but we’re halfway there.

“I don’t know why, but the media just don’t seem to go for this horse. He had the best form in the race and he has run some fast times home. He just got beaten in the Guineas and went a great run in the Karaka Million. People just don’t seem to give him credit for it.”

Desert Lightning was bred by the Mahoenui Partnership and was offered at Karaka by Little Avondale Stud, who have since sent two half-siblings through the Karaka sale ring in subsequent years. A colt by Per Incanto was bought by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Ballymore Stables for $180,000 at Karaka 2022, while another Per Incanto colt was passed in with a $150,000 reserve in Book 1 of Karaka 2023.

Vendor Little Avondale Stud
Purchaser PJ & DM Williams (Auckland)
Breeding Pride Of Dubai – Isstoora
Sale Lot 454, Karaka 2021 Book 1, $150,000
Bred by Mahoenui Partnership