Black Caviar maintains perfection

With a spontaneous applause following her every move past the stands and the nervous flicker of flags and scarves from a crowd full of fans, admirers and starstruck bystanders; it was time for Black Caviar to show the world what she could do outside of Australia. A perfect 21-for-21 in her homeland, Black Caviar has shipped 10,000 miles in a 30 hour trip to compete in one race - the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot - and began to canter to the start leaving her trainer, Peter Moody, carefully tracking her every move from his position by the winning post as she began to edge further away from him and ever closer to the start. This is race number 22 for Black Caviar in a career where she has little more to prove, she has given Australia the biggest boost their sport of horse racing could ever have hoped for and has propelled race fans across the globe into a sense of unparalleled loyalism.

Such is that unparalleled loyalism that a packed crowd fill Federation Square in Melbourne to watch their greatest ever mare - rivalled only by Makybe Diva. It is 00:45, past the bed time of many a fan but this is Black Caviar and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see her victorious against their British rivals at a game they do best. Installed into the gate tight on the rail, Black Caviar and Luke Nolen stare down the Ascot straight course in tandem with their sights firmly set on their finishing position. As the final few began to edge into the gates, 'Nelly' received her finally piece of encouragement from her familiar stable hand who remained seated on the partition between the stalls, brushing her mane from side to side. The final horses had made their way into the gates, Society Rock - albeit uneasy in the stalls - had settled after the cries of Johnny Murtagh for the starter to hold for a split second as his horse settles fully again; The gates fly open and Black Caviar sets off on her attempt to win on foreign soil. Nobody could've imagined the final furlong.

Having settled well outside of Bogart, Black Caviar has pulled her way to the front of the race with two furlongs to go and Nolen began to ask her for her effort to conclude the victory. Unlike the Black Caviar familiar to many racefans, the response did not seem to be immediate but sufficient to take a couple of lengths out of her under performing field. Like Frankel on Tuesday, Black Caviar had every rival at work and looked to have put the race to bed until the French challenge of Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent began to fly home along the rail to Black Caviar's left. Expectation is a volatile emotion and it is fair to say that Luke Nolen didn't expect a challenge to this wonder mare within the final furlong, virtually easing her down  to a canter as is so often the case in her Australian races but this time something was flying at her towards the finish. Nolen realised late, in the shadows of the post and began to push vigorously with yards to go but no matter what he did it would not be enough to encourage Black Caviar to restart her engines and start right back up at top gear - Moonlight Cloud was coming faster than ever before, faster than Black Caviar had ever encountered and lowered her head on the line to force a photo finish in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Gasps rung out around in the Ascot stands and could be heard from as far away as Federation Square; had Black Caviar been beaten? 

Sometimes fortune favours the luckless but it also favours mistakes, Black Caviar had held on to her perfect record by an ever decreasing margin from Freddie Head's Moonlight Cloud and Nolen took a sigh of relief. Despite the over exuberant belief that Black Caviar had done enough she hadn't and had won the race all on her own with heart, determination and sheer guts to keep going despite her engine being powered down. Melbourne could celebrate, Australia could celebrate and the plethora of fans who had travelled all the way to Ascot on trains packed full of pink and black attire since the early hours of the morning could say 'I was there'. Was Luke Nolen at fault? He admits he was but he was more at fault for having belief in a mare he had partnered to 18 previous victories. Black Caviar is his friend, his leading lady and a horse who he harbours exceptional belief in. The best partnerships always help each other out and on a day when Nolen admittedly wasn't at his best, Black Caviar helped him out and he's fully entitled to celebrate the victory with the same elation that an eleven length success would've provided. 

It's incredible how a filly or mare can exert that sense of loyalism and intrigue from both regular horse racing fans and crowds never seen before with the mythical stature surrounding their presence. Across the globe, Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Goldikova had all preceded Black Caviar and each one of them had provided moments of elation and moments full of heart palpitation - that's just another part of the excitement and rollercoaster-ride that comes with following a great horse. If a fear that one day the horse may get beat isn't there then where's the fun in watching procession after procession? Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Goldikova have all been and gone and it is ironic that just months after Goldikova retired to stud, Freddie Head was back again with another filly who almost snatched the prize from Black Caviar. Moonlight Cloud will be back, she may even be the heir to Black Caviar's filly crown, but for now it's time for Black Caviar and her connections to savour victory.

Peter Moody was honest; he was worried from a few furlongs out that she was not travelling with her normal exuberance and retirement may now beckon if she cannot get over the stress of travelling to the UK. She is a filly who has had niggling injuries all through her career and the stress and tribulation of a long journey from her homeland may have had more of an effect that connections believed. With the Newmarket July Cup off the agenda, Moody now looks to ship his wonder mare home to Australia with the Patniack Farm Classic the target if she does recover from her exertions. 

Black Caviar came, she conquered and she remained undefeated; That's what'll go down in the record books and nobody can take that away from her. Safe trip home, Nelly. 


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Older Comments about Black Caviar maintains perfection...

AnnaK. Gural as the new proprietor of the Meadowlands and that the Hambletonian, the Kentucky Derby of harness racing, is held there, Gural felt that he wanted a new rule that no horse sired by a 4 yr old could race in the Hambletonian. It was his way to keep top three yr. olds on the tracks.WEG, woodbine owner, agreed with Gural on this and is not allowing horses sired by 3yr olds stallions to compete in their signature events. In Gural's opinion, if champions stay on the track longer, it increases the fan base.
Buckpasser, very curious about Gural's statement about the tendency to retire champions at 3 would finish the racing model in 20 years or less. Could you fill that in abit? it sounds pretty interesting.
Travel_Vic, thanks for your comments. A horse does indeed run when released for their effort and will continue to do so for as long as their stamina allows. However, you seem to underestimate equine ability, if a horse hears another horse coming to it on its outside it will knuckle down and battle.
NO horse...Their entire run is a programmed fight or flight response and not much more. It icontinues to amaze how anthropomorphism is accepted as real. Maybe seeing too many animals doing human things in Disney movies as a child to know better.
With exception to Forego
horses run, they have no concept of a set point on a race course!
She is a smart mare,she knew she was going to win.
I was VERY scared at the end......Nolan just didn't see them coming....oh wow very scary.
Well said! 22 for 22, over two continents, over males, and over her career nagging injuries---she is incredibly special, a horse of a lifetime. I am grateful I got to see her race within mine.
We always talk here about why owners don't take chances and race so conservatively . Complaints about Zenyatta and others not facing great competition or traveling out of their home base. BCs owners sent here on a plane trip for over 30 hours across several time zones to race against top horses at track totally different that any she had raced on. They were willing to put her unbeaten streak on the line and risk ridicule if she didn't do well. That to me that is true sportsmanship, true class which is a real throw back to the great owners and champions of the past.
Icy. That policy of Woodbines was actually started by Jeff Gural at the Meadowlands which WEG in Woodbine agreed with. Gural stated that if we keep retiring our champions at three the horse racing model will be finished in 20 yrs or less. He is right but possibly wrong in duration as the horror in Canada shows. By the way your post was very nice and very accurate
I hope they retire this great horse, she has nothing else to prove.
this is fantastic. What a race to have witnessed in-person! Thanks, Dan for all your great coverage this week!
Great article Dan! Absolutely right, nobody can take this away from her. Love you Nelly!
What to do to revive racing is always the question uppermost in our minds it seems. We all know the answer, attract the youth. Because of so many demands on a gamblers dollar now days it's almost impossible and I never thought it could be done. Upon seeing the video of the crowd gathered in Australia to watch this magnificent mare I realized we have to run our best horses more than their 3yo season( something I knew but forgot). Sadly this hasn't been the case. I sometimes wonder if not for the fillies and mares who have in essence carried this sport since Zenyatta, Rachel, and others ( Royal Delta at the moment) where we would be. Woodbine instituted a great policy the details I'm unfamiliar with at the moment that if instituted across n/a would literally force 4 and 5yos to run or have their offspring denied entry into stake races. I'm sure some one more familiar can provide details as I would like to see them again myself. I should have copied them when I had the opportunity. As you pointed out Buckpasser the great mare was weary and still showed her heart of a champion. It was decent of her people to make the long arduous journey so we could enjoy her brilliance. As for myself I saw her greatness mixed with what I perceived to be compassion which can never be wrong.
Some of the post race comments have me worried, I hope she will be OK
Any time a horse travels a long distance, it is very stressful. Her trip from Australia with quarantine was very long and arduous. It took alot from her performance. Whether jockey error or jockey kindness, it was her sheer heart that carried across that finish line. In my opinion she was the star of the meet. Her owners wanted her to be part of the celebration for the Queens jubilee. She left England probably with even more fans in a finish that only a Hollywood screen writer could have come up with. She may never race again, but everyone will remember the Diamond Jubilee stakes of 2012.
That wasn't jockey error it was jockey kindness she was totally used up at the point he stopped urging her. He only began again because without the extra strenuous effort she would have lost. I wish Calvin had showed that compassion at Saratoga. BC won't run again at least not in group 1 company as she'll be a 7 yo when you take in the recovery time. She's a great horse who had her time, made her mark. It's time to pass the torch to her offspring. Time to think who is the best stud. It would be nice to hook that speed up to speed and stamina, Bernardini.
Can it be that in following this magnificent mare from win 13 on, that I've only watched less than 15 minutes of her mostly dominating performances ? Sad to think that today's victory, which so many asked to take place, that Black Caviar should travel outside of her homeland, may be her farewell. I remember her catch phrase that got me interested in finding out about the champion, "Blink and you'll miss her." My math could be off, but if you have a half hour to spare, and you did blink and miss her, you could take in her career. She brought joy to her fans every race. Very lovely blog about Black Caviar's heart attack win.
22 for 22 is absolutely amazing. Just some extra drama with the finish this time. The great ones find ways to overcome adversity. Good show, Black Caviar!

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