Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This is one of life's feel good stories - a none too subtle reminder as to why we love horse racing ... a beaut yarn from the Age's Michael Lynch:

WHEN Black Caviar returned to action at Flemington a week ago and proved she was back to her imperious best by smashing a 25-year-old track record, it seemed scarcely believable that racing, a sport that has had its fair share of horror headlines in the past six months, could deliver a better feel-good story.
But the improbable occurred at Caulfield on Saturday when a small interstate trainer, an unheralded young jockey and a pony-sized filly saw off the blue bloods from the big stables in one of the nation's most prestigious two-year-old races, the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Racing trades in dreams, at times it can embrace fantasy, but rarely does it deliver fairytales as it did at Caulfield courtesy of jockey Lauren Stojakovic and Miracles Of Life.
They were the headline act on a day that proved once again racing can produce a narrative to touch the heart like few other sports.
Black Caviar's little brother, All Too Hard, ridden by Dwayne Dunn, again displayed his class with a contemptuous victory in the group 1 Futurity Stakes 40 minutes before the Diamond, but he was relegated to best supporting act on this day.
Whatever else she does in her life, Stojakovic, a 29-year-old from Adelaide whose career has been noted more for horrendous injuries than big race triumphs, will never forget this Blue Diamond day, or, more specifically, the 69.76 seconds it took her pint-sized partner to run her 14 rivals ragged in the big race, which justified the faith of the horse's owners and trainer Daniel Clarken.
Ever since the filly announced herself as a serious contender before Christmas with a nine-length win at Morphettville, the pressure has been on Clarken to stand down his rider in favour of a hard-nosed Melbourne professional.
Plenty of jockeys and their agents had called, but Clarken stood firm in the face of the advocates who said this was a once-in-a-lifetime horse and he had to do the ''professional thing''.
Clarken was vindicated in the best possible manner by his smiling jockey, whose parents and grandmother were on hand to watch her score the biggest win of her life.
As Stojakovic rode back to dismount, her ponytail protruding beneath her red and yellow cap, an emotional Clarken soaked up the moment and the magnitude of their collective achievement. He knew what this meant for them all. ''That ride was 10 out of 10. I think it's changed my life and it will change Lauren's career big-time. That ride was amazing. She's struggling to get a ride in Adelaide, I said you are more of a chance to get a ride in Melbourne, and she is, after today.''
Stojakovic was coolness personified. Even when there was a delay at the start she remained calm. ''In the gates I said to 'Barbie' [the jockey's nickname for Miracles Of Life] there was about a minute between us being good or great, and after the run I told her she was just brilliant. I didn't realise how good it could feel to cross the line in a group 1.''
For her father Nenad, who wept unashamed tears of joy, this made up for the nightmare nights tending to a broken-up daughter worthwhile. He has been there when Stojakovic has battled back from a broken leg, a broken pelvis and a neck injury.
''They underestimated her, the filly, and Dan, and they won't any more,'' he said with conviction.
For Stojakovic, there is no fear of her missing out or letting this success go to her head. ''I'll turn up, I'm dedicated,'' she said with a grin.

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