It’s not often you get surprised by racing people.
Salt of the earth, most of them. The older ones have pretty much seen everything.
Sure things beaten. Camels that sprout wings. Jockeys finding fast lanes, and zip-tight pockets, all on the same day.
It takes plenty to get their attention. Even more to get them excited. And that’s what happened yesterday.
I saw something I’ve never seen, in forty years of loving the racing game. It was at a pub. Not one of your fancy inner-city places. This was an old school establishment, with blokes who still eat white bread, and wouldn’t be able to name a fancy imported brew in a skinny bottle.
Like everyone else, they gathered around screens just after 5, to watch Her in action. The usual rowdy conversations stopped. All eyes were on the Number 9, in the black and salmon.
As the race unfolded, there was none of the usual boisterous barracking. It was almost a respectful silence. Until the Mighty Mare hit the front.
They cheered. Someone yelled ‘Go Girl’. Ok, that may have been me. And then, something I’ll never forget.
This crowd in stretched t-shirts and well-worn thongs, started clapping. Loud, sustained applause, in a suburban pub. They love Black Caviar so much, this mob, they couldn’t help themselves. And it was perfect.
It’s what the critics don’t get. What this champion racehorse has done to a nation.
She has reached far beyond the punters. People from all walks of life are talking about racing. They’re watching tv, and reading sports pages, to find out what’s she’s up to.
Families are going to the races to watch her. Thousands of them. Stands that have been empty for years, are packed again.
The narks choose to ignore all this. These small minded nobodies want to find fault. They want to criticise her owners, and her trainer. And it’s a disgrace.
Peter Moody is at the forefront of dragging the industry off the floor. At a time when the gambling dollar is under threat like never before, he’s become the public face of everything that’s exciting about racing.
He shares her, like a proud father shows off his favourite baby photos. Does interviews with good grace and great humour. Makes us feel like we’re on the journey with him. Which of course, we are.
Forget the rubbish you hear about her beating inferior fields. It’s utter crap. Trainers have been dodging the Mighty Mare for years now. Because they know they can’t get anywhere near her.
She demolishes anything game enough to challenge her. Believe me, there hasn’t been a horse sitting at home in a stall, that could have changed a result that she’s been part of.
They don’t hand out Group Ones. She’s won fifteen of them. Mostly untouched.
But that’s not the most telling factor in this wonderful story. Winning races is only the start of it.
She’s become part of the family. Our kids will tell their kids about a horse that could fly. Everyone will have a story, about the day they saw Black Caviar. And amazingly, the great majority will have never won a dollar on her.
She’s so good, most of us don’t need to back her. And those that do outlay something, keep the ticket to put in the pool room.
We’ll never see another like her. And we’ll never see a greater example of what really makes people go to the races.
Nothing beats seeing a champion in action. Just be thankful that those around her want to take us along for the ride. That deserves another round of applause.