Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another race that stopped a nation

An incredible triumph

BLACK Caviar, the racehorse that has captured the hearts of Australians like no other since Phar Lap, showed the world why she is regarded as the greatest sprinter of all-time with a memorable win at Royal Ascot.

But for a few strides near the line, the whole nation held its breath for a moment when jockey Luke Nolen eased up 75m out and was nearly caught by French mare Moonlight Cloud.

Nolen realised his error and shook the reins in the final three strides as Black Caviar held on to score a narrow and famous win.

Before Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and more than 75,000 racegoers, Black Caviar kept her perfect race record intact and showcased her extraordinary talents with a brilliant win in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

After the race, relief was the immediate and overwhelming emotion for trainer Peter Moody, jockey Luke Nolen, and the mare's syndicate of owners after they had endured intense media scrutiny and pressure in the build-up to Royal Ascot.

Nolen admitted he underestimated the testing straight track and its uphill climb to the finish at Royal Ascot.  "It is quite unfortunate as it is going to overshadow a very good win," Nolen said.

"There might be more talk about my brain fade rather than the horse's fantastic effort.  "It was pilot error but I got away with it. She won so it doesn't matter."

Moody was more philosophical about the scare as Black Caviar scrambled home to the narrowest win of her celebrated career.

"You only have to win by a quarter of an inch," Moody said.  "That is what we were prepared to do and we got the job done.

"We never expect dominance, we've never asked her for that. We always worry about having her ready for her next start.  "But we are very proud of her. She is 22 from 22 now, I'm extremely proud of her."

The Queen paid Black Caviar the ultimate tribute when she made her way down to the mounting yard to meet Moody, Nolen and Black Caviar after the race.

Moody admitted words could not describe how he felt to meet the Queen as the trainer of the winner of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

"It's just an ubelievable feeling to be standing here," Moody said.  "This is something I never thought I would experience, meeting the Queen, it was quite overwhelming. As we all know, Her Majesty is a horse lover.  "It was a meeting of the two Queens of Australia."

It seemed the whole of Australia stopped to watch our sprint superstar attain international glory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with the race shown live on Channel 7, Sky Channel and TVN, plus broadcast on Sky Sports Radio and ABC.

There were also more than 7000 Aussies, many adorned in Black Caviar's racing colours of salmon and black spots, on track to witness the defining moment in the great mare's career.

Black Caviar has now won all 22 of her races, including 12 at Group 1 level, and more than $6 million prizemoney.

She has the longest, unbeaten start to a race career in more than 150 years - her sequence of 22 successive wins equals the Australian record of Queensland bush gallopers, Sava Jet and Miss Petty, and 12 Group 1 wins is the most by an Australian-trained mare.


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