Wednesday, March 16, 2011


When I started working as a copyboy on the now defunct Sun newspaper back in 1973 (and subsequently dragooned into the racing department), the horse of the day was the mighty grey, Gunsynd.
Cox Plate winner, Epsom, Doncaster, Rawson, Toorak, Queen Elizabeth – third (carrying 60.5kgs) behind Piping Lane in the Melbourne Cup – Gunsynd’s popularity was incredible. They even wrote a song about him … the Goondiwindi Grey. Terrible bloody song but they still sold a lot of ‘em.
The years since have seen a lot of ‘people’s champs’ including Manikato, Strawberry Road, Bonecrusher, Vo Rogue, Better Loosen Up, Octagonal and his son Lonhro, Might And Power, Sunline, Makybe Diva and, of course, the immortal Kingston Town.
But there’s something about Black Caviar that takes her into a whole new stratosphere.
I’m not saying she’s a better mare than Sunline and the memory’s not that bad to trivialize the deeds of Makybe Diva.
After all, I still get goose bumps from the memory of Sunline edging out Shogun Lodge in the 2002 Doncaster (she was the only one at Randwick that knew she’d won) and Lee Freedman is probably spot on to assert that we’ll never again witness the likes of Makybe Diva’s Melbourne Cup three peat.
But there is an unparalleled aura about Black Caviar which is almost impossible to define.
Sure, her unbeaten status has a lot to do with it … so does the fact that no-one out there has a clue to just how fast she can go. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll never find out.
Note, this has nothing to do with Eliza Park standing her sire, Bel Esprit (he’s more than capable of standing up on his own four feet), nor that we bred her mother, Helsinge.
No, Black Caviar transcends any parochial claims and is simply a horse for the ages.
More importantly, Black Caviar is the reason you muck out boxes, get up with the foaling alarm, keep a phone account despite backing three losing favourites in a row, and still frock up for the races on a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon.
Black Caviar IS racing.

- Greg Tobin (Photo by Bronwen Healy)

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