Royal Ascot, June 2012. Black Caviar had kicked clear of her rivals in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Jockey Luke Nolen dropped his hands, expecting the great mare to coast home as she always did.
Two fliers appeared on her outside. Nolen panicked, urging Black Caviar to dig deep. She was injured, badly. But Black Caviar did what all champions do.
The odds were against her in the final 100 metres, but she found something and she proved herself a legend.
Black Caviar was retired yesterday with a perfect record of 25 wins from 25 starts. She was without peer, undoubtedly the greatest sprinter to have graced Australian turf.
And she was truly graceful, this wonderful piece of equine machinery.
The way she kicked clear of her rivals, without seeming to try. There was no sense of urgency from Nolen, nor from the mare herself. She merely lengthened her stride and blew away her opposition.
She is the only Australian horse to be timed at under 10 seconds for a furlong (200 metres). So she was clocked galloping at over 70 kilometres per hour – an unbelievable thought.
Black Caviar’s fleeting love affair with the Australian public became a full-blown romance.
Race courses around the country were full to bursting when Black Caviar was in town and Royal Randwick was well and truly at capacity on the weekend when she went around one last time, though we weren’t to know that at the time.
But now, for the seven-year-old, there is no chance of the fairytale being trashed. She will never, ever be beaten.
Black Caviar will be forever mentioned in the same breath as Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town and Makybe Diva.
“She put racing on the back pages for the right reasons,” her trainer Peter Moody said.
Black Caviar’s retirement made the front and the back pages and well might she hog the spotlight.
Black Caviar captured the imagination of the public. The love affair with this great thoroughbred is one that will last a lifetime. – Matthew Connellan
Top photo from Gone Galloping’s Flickr photostream