Sunday, March 13, 2011


The comparisons are too irresistible to ignore. The race was sponsored by a luxury car marque and on the day of the Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m), the Top Gear Show came to Melbourne at the Showgrounds that sit atop Flemington racecourse. While rev heads rejoiced, instead it was horsepower of another kind that had the 24,583 people at the races spellbound as Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) crushed her rivals in another breathtaking display of power sprinting to land the Newmarket Handicap.
Black Caviar broke the hearts of her opposition at the 300m mark. Luke Nolen asked her for a little more effort and in a matter of strides, Australia’s best sprinters went from being comfortable to inhabiting a world of pain in trying to lay up with the four-year-old, let along challenge her.
With the crowd applauding, Black Caviar went clear and again, as in the Lightning Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m), she was allowed the luxury of coasting home the final 100m without a serious challenger in sight. Last season’s Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Crystal Lily (Stratum) was bravely chasing in second place with the Darley-homebred Beaded (Lonhro) closing for third.
The futility of their chase cruelly exposed with a final race time of 1:07.36 – just 0.2 of a second outside the track record – with a final 600m in 32.67. All completed under 58 kilograms, the second highestweight carried to victory by a mare behind Pendant who won the race in 1906 with the imperial equivalent of 60 kilograms.
In winning Black Caviar becomes the first Australian horse in history to achieve 10 wins from her first 10 starts and she returned to a rousing reception.
Trainer Peter Moody wore the look of a relieved trainer as he waited for his mare to return to the mounting yard. “It’s been a big build-up and it’s nice to put it behind us,” Moody said. “It’s a great relief because this was the one chance, you’d think, for the opposition to beat her and probably the only chance the handicapper will ever get at her.
“Like I said last time, what do you say? You get lost for words because she’s just awesome.” Moody explained that he was aware of the weight and he was mindful of not discounting that in the way Black Caviar runs her races. “I said to Luke to be as kind as you can for as long as you can because we don’t have to be three in front at the furlong just an inch in front on the line. I said before this was probably the last time she’d be running in a handicap so we were mindful of the weight, you have to be.” The Victorian public has certainly taken Black Caviar to heart and this is adding to the pressure for Moody and connections. “I’d like to think we’ve kept our cool all week and that extends to the horse. The public perception is the thing that scares me.
“I would have been more disappointed for the owners and for everyone that came to see her if something had gone wrong. I know she’s going to give her all and the only thing that would bring about her downfall is injury.” Jockey Luke Nolen wore an air of mission accomplished. “We travelled just over halfway well on the bridle then I just her let slide up. I went full bore just thinking with the 58 [kilos] and with a couple of others in it [it might be harder]. I didn’t pull my neck out looking at the big screen today but when she went she went.
She’s every jockey’s dream.” Black Caviar has further emphasised her place as the best sprinter in the world. Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter was left searching for superlatives over the performance but confined himself to pure handicapping matters.
The highest rated sprinter ever on the IFHA World rankings is Oasis Dream (Green Desert) who was rated 125 after a three-year-old season that saw him win England’s premier sprint, the July Cup (Gr 1, 6f) defeating Choisir. Following her Newmarket Handicap win Carpenter believes that Black Caviar will be rated above that.
“Just taking a line through Crystal Lily and Beaded, I’d estimate that Black Caviar has rated some 20 pounds above those two females with the race under handicap conditions. She [Black Caviar] was rated 123 on the last set of rankings and I’d have said she would be ratified at 125 following her Lightning Stakes win. Looking at her win today it is not difficult to say that she will be above 125 and in my view could even possibly be nudging 130, a mark normally reserved for the mile and a half classic horses in Europe.
“She [Black Caviar] is the vehicle that has turned that around and she has flushed out the comparisons, she really does look something very special.”
Black Caviar (4 m Bel Esprit – Helsinge, by Desert Sun) has now earned $2,299,250 from her ten wins. Bred by Rick Jamieson, she sold for $210,000 at the Melbourne Premier Sale.
Moody said Black Caviar would have her next run in the William Reid Stakes (Gr 1) over 1200m under weight-for-age conditions at Moonee Valley on Friday week.
– Darryl Sherer, ANZ Bloodstock News

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