The woman on the fence was in her best dress. She’d been waiting a while. It was the perfect spot to see the winner return. The lady was waving a flag. And shedding a tear.
She’d just seen something special. Like the rest of us. The fastest racehorse in the world, gobbling up the second fastest racehorse in the world.
Her friends were cheering too. They’d also been there a while. It was such a good spot. A bloke a few rows back kept yelling out to us. “She’s the best in the world, mate.” Just in case we hadn’t noticed.
Everyone knew Black Caviar would win. Everyone knew it would be exciting. What we didn’t know, was just HOW exciting.
You know the cheer they make when the field leaves the barriers in the Melbourne Cup? The Doomben crowd did a pretty fair imitation. And then, as this magnificent mare rounded the bend, and took over from poor old Hay List, the cheer turned into something else.
I’ve been bumming around racecourses since I was 16. I’ve sat in State of Origin cauldrons. Even Wembley once. I’ve heard passionate crowds, in top voice.
But this was something else. This was one, furious, magnificent roar. The stands shook. Form guides quivered. Chills multiplied. Just before 4 o’clock, on Saturday May 14, sporting history wasn’t made. It was amplified.
When all was done, they left her out there alone. It was her time, after all. The other horses and jockeys were ushered off the Grand Dame’s stage.
Luke Nolan was in no hurry. He took her all the way back up the straight she’d just scorched. When he came back a second time, it was at a leisurely stroll. So everyone could get a look. Cue more cheering.
Peter Moody was covered in kisses. From owners, and journos, and committee men. We all owe him big time. Forget winning a Group One race. He could do that anywhere. This was about showing off his girl to Queensland. Making us feel good. Getting people of all ages back to the track.
It wasn’t just the biggest crowd since we were doing the ‘Crocodile Rock’ and blushing while watching ‘Alvin Purple’. It was the happiest. Smiles everywhere. We would have stayed all night if they hadn’t kicked us out.
Hours earlier, before the champ even had her saddle on, I shared the end of a bench with two good ol’ boys. I munched on my hot dog; they sipped on cool drinks.
The bloke next to me started talking, as men of his vintage do. Told me he hadn’t been to a racetrack since the late seventies. Until today.
He’d decided to come out, with his thirsty mate, to be part of sporting history. They’d been planning it for weeks. Now, could I recommend a nice bar until race time?
The boys might have to make another trip in two weeks. Every chance the Champ will return for the Doomben 10,000. We’ll all be back. Every one of us.
Can it get any bigger? She’s capable of anything, this mare. Fans will be booking tickets tomorrow. That roar, however, is another thing. That was one for the ages.