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Greatest Race Horse of Generations Retires – Sound, Fit and In Front

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If Black Caviar’s win in the TJ Smith Stakes last Saturday is our lasting memory of her, trainer Peter Moody and her group of owners could not have chosen a grander stage.

Before a packed Royal Randwick, the racecourse’s new grandstand providing a magnificent backdrop, and against one of the best fields of sprinters she has faced during her career, Black Caviar was at her supreme best.

She raced away to another easy win, three lengths this time, collecting two more Australian records in the process – her tally of 15 Group 1 wins eclipsed the previous record set by Kingston Town, and her eighth Group 1 win in succession broke Bernborough’s benchmark established nearly 70 years ago.elated Coverage

Black Caviar’s name nestles comfortably in the pantheon of all-time greats like Phar Lap, Kingston Town, Bernborough, Tulloch, Carbine, Rising Fast, Might And Power and Makybe Diva. But Black Caviar did something none of those legends could achieve – she retires unbeaten. Undefeated champions are a rare jewel in racing and only one thoroughbred in world racing boasts a superior record – but you need to go back nearly 150 years to find that horse, Hungarian mare Kincsem, winner of 54 starts.The Australian wonder mare certainly had nothing left to prove on the racetrack. Moody and her owners were not chasing the dollars, it was never about the money, but they wanted to secure Black Caviar’s place in racing history by preserving her famous unbeaten winning streak and not sending her to the races one time too many.It happened to America’s champion mare Zenyatta, who lost her final race after winning her first 19 races. It won’t happen to Black Caviar.

Black Caviar is a rising seven-year-old mare and for every race win, she was moving closer to a potential loss.That she retained her phenomenal speed and power over four years of racing at the highest level despite suffering some potentially career-ending injuries is testament to Moody’s management of the mare, and her own desperate will to win.This was never more evident than the day Black Caviar conquered the world at England’s famous Royal Ascot carnival last June.I have been privileged to watch Black Caviar race many times but I rank her English victory as perhaps the greatest of her 25 wins.Black Caviar wasn’t at her best that day but she was still able to beat the Northern Hemisphere’s best sprinters.She was going to win comfortably by more than a length when Luke Nolen misjudged the winning post and began easing down on the great mare. They were nearly caught by France’s Moonlight Cloud.For a few strides, a whole nation held its breath before Nolen realised his error, shook the reins at Black Caviar in the final three strides and she held on to score a narrow win.It wasn’t until after the race that we learned how Black Caviar managed to conjure a win under duress.She has suffered some severe leg and back muscle injuries that would have prevented any other horse from stretching out fully – but not this equine phenomenon.As always, Black Caviar found a way to win.

As a sports tragic, I still feel that Black Caviar’s effort at Royal Ascot is one of the great Australian sporting moments, right up there with Australia II’s America’s Cup win in 1982, Cadel Evans’ win in the 2011 Tour de France, Don Bradman’s 99.94 Test batting average, tennis great Rod Laver’s dual Grand Slam wins in 1962 and 1969, Shane Warne’s ball of the century to Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes series, Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Makybe Diva’s third Melbourne Cup in 2005, swimming legend Dawn Fraser’s hat-trick of Olympic 100m gold medals, and Phar Lap’s 1932 win in the Agua Caliente Handicap.

And like all those champions, Black Caviar transcended her sport, bringing a whole new audience to watch her race.

- Ray Thomas Daily Telegraph


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