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Colts out to end 3YO drought in Lightning

In an ominous warning for Flying Artie’s rivals, trainer Mick Price believes the Group One-winning colt has come of age since his unbeaten spring campaign.

Flying Artie resumes in Saturday’s Group One Lightning Stakes at Flemington where he will be out to become the first three-year-old in more than a decade to win the weight-for-age sprint.

Not since Fastnet Rock in 2005 has a three-year-old toppled the older horses in the 1000m straight race, although 22 horses of that age group have won.

Early markets suggests the recent hoodoo can be broken with Flying Artie and fellow three-year-old colt Star Turn occupying the top two lines of betting ahead of acceptances on Wednesday.

Flying Artie has taken over favouritism at $4.60 from Star Turn ($5) in TAB’s all-in market.

The colt continued his Lightning build-up with an 800m gallop in company at Caulfield on the steeple grass on Tuesday.

“He’s had a good preparation. His gallop at Sandown was good. His official trial at Cranbourne was good. So for 1000 metres he’s pretty right,” Price said.

“It will be interesting to see what he does over 1000 metres. But it is a Group One so that’s what we’re going for.”

Flying Artie’s only start over 1000m was at Flemington on debut as a spring two-year-old when he ran a close second in the Maribyrnong Plate.

He won a Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) first-up in his next campaign before placing in the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper, then won fresh up again in the Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) last spring.

His biggest win came in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in his only other spring start where Price said he raced like a professional after being “a bit green” in the Blue Sapphire.

“I think he’s come of age a bit,” Price said.

“I think he’s improved and he looks fantastic.

“He’s a really big, strong, autumn three-year-old now.”

The previous two Coolmore Stud Stakes winners both placed in the Lightning in their return from a spell the following campaign with Brazen Beau second to Lankan Rupee in 2015 while Japonisme was a close third last year behind Chautauqua and Terravista.

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