Black Caviar survives Royal scare
As close to 80,000 fans at Royal Ascot collectively held their breath Australian superstar Black Caviar scraped home to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) in a heart-stopping finish that almost went wrong.
After taking the lead in the 1,600 metre contest, jockey Luke Nolen dropped his hands approaching the last 100 metres thinking he had race won. But it was only in the last couple of strides that he realised differently, as the French pair of Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent swooped to his left. Luckily for him, Black Caviar had more fuel in the tank and she responded to his second call, to prevail by a head from the Thierry Jarnet-ridden Moonlight Cloud, while Maxine Guyon on Restiadargent was a neck back in third.
Godolphin’s Soul ran a massive front-running race for jockey Frankie Dettori to take fourth place, just half-a-length behind the winner.
Nolen, who has ridden Black Caviar in 19 of her famous wins, admitted that he had almost compromised the race with his faulty judgement.
“I underestimated the testing track. I tried to shut her down,” the Australian jockey told BBC television. “It thought she’d had enough and that big engine throttled right down.
“It’s unfortunate, because we’re going to talk more about my brain failure than the horse’s fantastic effort. We won, but it may have overshadowed what was a fantastic effort by the horse. We got away with it.”
Melbourne-based trainer Peter Moody stood by his jockey and instead highlighted the phenomenal achievement of his wonder mare who has whipped up a media storm ever since she flew out of Australia on a 17,000km journey to England, to compete at the Royal meeting.
“You’ve only got to win by a quarter of an inch — we got the job done. We never expect dominance — we never ask her for dominance — we are extremely proud of her,” he deadpanned a response to BBC present Rishi Persand. “I’m an extremely proud Aussie. It’s very fitting that it’s with a horse like this.”
Moody has brought horses to the Royal meeting on three previous occasions but it was the first time he had a horse of the calibre of Black Caviar who is vying with the Britain’s unbeaten champion Frankel for the coveted title of the ‘world’s best racehorse’.
She is expected to become the highest rated mare in history after the win, surpassing Allez France, the French champion of the 1970s, and England’s Habibti, a great sprinter of the 1980s. Timeform are likely to rated her at 137 if not 138 when the new ratings are revealed.
For her 10 owners, who must surely have had their hearts in their mouths during those agonising final moments of a great race, they received the ultimate compliment when Queen Elizabeth arrived in the winner’s enclosure to pat Black Caviar before giving away the trophies.
Freddie Head, trainer of Moonlight Cloud, was thinking about how things could have been, and said: “One more stride and we would have won.
“I love this filly, she is a darling and she will make a lovely broodmare one day.”
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