The 2023 Lunar New Year Sprint run at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)

The 2023 Lunar New Year Sprint run at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)

888-metre races set tempo

Attention might be on the speedsters engaged in Saturday's Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning, but it won't be the quickest race run in Victoria this weekend.

In fact, the time-honoured Flemington straight contest over 1000 metres is likely to be only the fourth-fastest in the state across Friday and Saturday.

The Valley will, as usual, hold its regular 955-metre contest on Friday night, but it's two races programmed around the Chinese New Year which are set to scorch the turf.

Blink and you'll miss them - the Alinta Energy Lunar New Year Sprint under lights at The Valley on Friday night and the 888 Racing Woolamai Whirlwind on Saturday will both be run over the unusual distance of 888m.

The number eight is seen as the luckiest number in Chinese culture, associated with wealth, prosperity and success, while 888 reflects triple fortune.

Chinese New Year was celebrated last Saturday, but The Valley will host a cultural festival trackside on Friday night and has attracted a full field of 10 plus three emergencies for the second running of the 888-metre race.

Naturally, the contest contains plenty of speed in the form of previous 55 Second Challenge heat winners Grandview Avenue and Berry Bubbly, plus 900-metre Albury winner Lipstick Swing and dual 800-metre winner Bold Offa making the 12-hour round trip from Yass.

Enver Jusufovic won the inaugural race with Mutinous and has Midnight Devil engaged.

As for the Woolamai Whirlwind at the picnic races on Saturday, it set the tone introducing the concept in 2022 with the first-ever running.

Furthermore, it's got Dean Binaisse's aptly named 888 Racing on board as the sponsor.

With a field limit of eight imposed, the race has attracted a full field plus three emergencies.

Track records:

888m Woolamai record: 54.86 (Dominant Way)

888m Moonee Valley record: 52.54 (Mutinous)

955m Moonee Valley record: 54.45 (Sisstar)

1000m Flemington record: 55.42 (Black Caviar)