Black Caviar in a class of her own
Jockey Luke Nolen at Melbourne's Fed Square before flying to England to ride Black Caviar at Royal Ascot. Photo: Pat Scala
We waited a long time for the Black Caviar bubble to burst. It didn't. Now bursting it would be heartbreaking.
From the early days it was obvious she was good but just how good was a matter of opinion. She gave an inkling at her fourth start when she hurt herself coming out of the barrier but raced on heart and still won.
After a rest to recuperate, she came back and notched another victory. Impressive. But injury struck again.
She was talented yes, but fragile too. It began to look as though her hulking frame was as much hindrance as it was help.
Her trainer Peter Moody knew what to do. He kept faith in Black Caviar and nursed her through her early campaigns, waited out her injuries and let her off the leash at just the right time - when she and her body were ready.
Just when did she morph from outstanding racehorse to the finest sprinter this country has ever seen?
She claimed her first group 1 at her eighth start and the momentum started to build.
She then added the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap - two of Australia's premier sprint races - before coming to Sydney in the autumn of 2011. First time out of Victoria, racing in the reverse direction and meeting a foe the ilk of stunning sprinter Hay List. The T.J. Smith at Randwick had a tantalising build-up as we wondered whether the mare had met her match. And we began to wonder it again when she wobbled around the turn and Hay List went for home. But then she pinned her ears back, shifted up a gear and set sail.
Once she balanced up she steamed. She reeled Hay List in and breezed past him as though she had been kidding us the whole time. It was breathtaking.
That was when we knew. She had given Sydney's best sprinter a kick up the backside. And in the end, she had made it look effortless.
So off she went to Brisbane where she repeated the dose in the BTC Cup before Moody decided she had done enough and spelled her. By the time she came back for a spring campaign, we believed. She won her three starts with such ease that finishing second to her became a badge of honour.
Moody decided 2012 would be the time to take her to the world. She was ready.
In January she won the Australia Stakes in a canter, then for the first time she was stretched out to 1400 metres in the C.F. Orr.
Seven days later, Moody backed her up over 1000m. He said she needed a barrier trial but the Lightning Stakes was being run and the prizemoney was better.
It was the first time she had raced on consecutive weekends but it didn't seem to matter.
Since then she has had some fresh air and a couple of tune-up wins in Adelaide to get her fit for England.
She travelled over wearing a lycra suit. She arrived to an awaiting media throng that has grown by the day.
More than 100 members of the press turned out in the early morning cold at Newmarket just to watch her canter around at half-pace more than a week before the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
We know she will win at Royal Ascot. We hope she might towel them.
Maybe give the Queen of England, who will be in attendance, reason to marvel. AAP
Black Caviar takes on the world at Royal Ascot in the group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. TV time: Live on Prime and TVN at 12.45am.