Remembering the Queen of Doomben. The day we roared for the Mighty Mare.

May 14, 2016

What were you doing on this very day five years ago?

I was at the races. A shock, I know.

But not just any race day. This was sporting history in the making.

On May 14, 2011, Black Caviar came to town. The nation was in the grip of Mighty Mare Fever. She just kept winning. And finally, we’d be able to be part of it.

The night before, her trainer Peter Moody was enjoying a few Fourex Golds at the Brekky Creek. Another shock. Nothing wrong with settling the nerves.

He’d taken her across the country by then. But this was special. This was his home state. The boy from the bush, under enormous pressure, giving something back.

Come race day, and women who may have watched Bernborough go around were in their finest dresses. Blokes in battered hats craned necks to get a glimpse. Small children were waving flags. Doomben was awash with black and salmon.

She was against her old foe Hay List. The world’s second best sprinter. And a youngster named Buffering. Flying the local flag.

They left the gates, and we cheered. Like a Melbourne Cup start. Soon we saw that this was a contest. Hay List was flying early. She would have to work for it.

They rounded the bend, and it happened. Something special.

She glided past her old foe. Lengthened that massive stride. There would be no defeat in Brisbane.

What I remember most, was the noise. The stands shook. I’ve never heard anything like it. A collective roar, as she hit the line.

You hugged whoever was next to you. Apologies again officer. There were tears. One dollar tickets remained in pockets, instead of tote tills. So they could be kept for the grandkids.

We owe Peter Moody and Luke Nolen so much for what they did that day. Signing momentos long after the last. Soaking up the smiles.

Five years on, and one is still drinking those Golds. Possibly at a bush track, sleeping in a swag. The other is in hospital, after a terrible fall last weekend.

I hope they both get to watch today’s UBET BTC Cup. And remember that golden day like the rest of us will.

It will be a wonderful race again. Japonisme  will be hard to beat, but my money will be on Artlee. And when he salutes, I’ll think of that roar, and the tears, on the day the Mighty Mare and her knockabout trainer stole our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The pests who want to pot Black Caviar. Here’s a tip – we don’t want to hear it.

February 11, 2012

Someone, somewhere is bagging Black Caviar.

Can you believe that? The best horse we’ll see in our lifetime, and the Village Idiot wants to have a crack at her.

It would seem that the rest of us have been fooled all along. Those 17 consecutive wins weren’t the real deal.

According to the lunatic fringe, the mighty mare isn’t beating anything. The competition is ordinary. Therefore, Moody’s flying machine isn’t the awesome animal we’ve declared.

Proof once again, that one doesn’t need a long neck to be a goose.

It irks me no end when people go out of their way to find fault with a champion.

Un-Australian, that’s what it is. These same fools would declare Alfie Langer too small, and Dipper too big.

The clowns without wigs, who announce to their mates that Doug Walters wasn’t fit enough, and Harry Kewell only cares about the cash.

Spend long enough with them, and they’d probably tell you Mother Teresa needed to work on her wardrobe.

I don’t get it. Why not just sit back and enjoy the freakish talents of the great ones?

True sports fans don’t need to bring champions down. They simply marvel at the performance.

Today, Black Caviar tries something different. An extra 200 metres. Her first attempt at 1400 metres.

She will win again. No doubt about that. In my humble opinion, she’ll be even better over this distance. An extra furlong to break their hearts.

Peter Moody thinks so. He’s always believed she’d be stronger as the trip increased. Luke Nolen too.

That enormous, soul-destroying stride. She’ll swallow them up again, soon after they straighten. Their lungs will be screaming for air. She’ll be cruising.

These dimwits who subscribe to the argument that she’s beating second-raters, weren’t at Doomben when she won the BTC Cup last year. The day she crushed Hay List, again.

At his best, he’s a world-class sprinter. If she wasn’t around, he’d have a mantlepiece full of trophies.

That afternoon at Doomben, for the briefest of seconds, Glen Boss thought he might have pinched it. Hay List was flying in front. Maybe this would be the day.

It wasn’t. In the space of a few strides, the Mighty Mare caught up, drew level, went past, and exploded away. Seriously, just a few strides.

There were 20,000 race fans jammed into the course that day. Screaming her name. I’m here to tell you that not one of them thought Black Caviar was beating nothing.

We were all just happy to be there. In the presence of something so special. The rank and file of the racing game get a buzz from such events. They have no time to look for negatives that don’t exist.

I didn’t see Phar Lap or Tulloch. Wish I had. To be in the stand at Flemington watching Big Red winning the Cup must surely have been the greatest thrill the sport has produced.

I have no need to compare them with our current superstar. Good fun in the pub and on talkback radio, but I don’t need the answer.

Peter Moody’s Superhorse has already given me my greatest experience in racing. The day she created history in Brisbane.

She provides that joy for so many people, wherever she runs. They don’t care about winnings. It’s about golden memories. And smiles.

You and I, we’ll see other great ones before we head to the Great Spelling paddock in the sky. But nothing like her.

Enjoy what she does this afternoon. Turn your back on anyone who dares to doubt her. And take it all in. This journey we’re on won’t last forever.


My secret friendship with Black Caviar, and what she wants to hear tomorrow.

May 13, 2011

I’m friends with Black Caviar on Facebook. We’ve been tight for weeks now. Celebrating each other’s success. Ok, mostly her success.

She’s probably my most exciting friend online. No offence to the rest of you. But really, it’s not much of a contest. Some of my closest acquaintances would need a cab to cover the 1200 metres.

You must know by now that the world’s greatest racehorse is in Brisbane. And she’s the hottest ticket in town. Just a few weeks into the Winter carnival, and they’re about to put the ‘House Full’ sign up at Doomben. Twenty thousand people, coming to see one mighty mare.

She’s running in the BTC Cup. Hardly one of the classics. Remember who won it last year? Probably not. It was Albert the Fat, at 20 to 1. Decent horse, but not Facebook worthy.

Traditionally, it’s a stepping stone to bigger days ahead. The 10,000 and Stradbroke. Not any more. After tomorrow, it might just be the most memorable race ever run here.

People are flying in from around the country, to watch a horse race. Can you believe that? From Cairns, and Townsville, and Sydney, and beyond. And not just racing nuts. Sports fans. Ready to be part of something we might never experience again.

There are very few horses that can hold the interest of non-racing types. Punters are used to our nearest and dearest tuning out the minute we start babbling about odds and weights. How unlucky we were in the last.

Phar Lap could do it. I wasn’t around at the time, even though it might look like I was. Big Red gave hope to thousands during those grim Depression years.

More recently, Makybe Diva had that pulling power. Winning three Melbourne Cups will do that. But would she have sold out Doomben racecourse in early May? Maybe. Maybe not.

Someone asked me this week why Black Caviar is so special. A bloke who loves his sport, but wouldn’t know a hoof from a hat rack. There are some easy answers. Winning 12 consecutive metropolitan races is a start. And doing it with ease. Officially rated the best in the world. Making potential superstars look second-rate.

But it’s more than statistics. It goes deeper. I reckon those playing the bit roles around this mighty mare have plenty to do with the whirlwind romance we’re all caught up in.

Trainer Peter Moody is a bloke you just want to have a beer with. He’s a Queenslander, of course. A bush boy, from out Charleville way. He’d rather have his champion in Brisbane, than mixing with the toffs at Royal Ascot. It’s a huge call to ignore those wolf whistles from overseas.

Jockey Luke Nolan seems a humble guy. Make no mistake, he’s one of the best in the land. But he plays down his role in this show. Reckons she does all the work. He takes her out, she wins, he brings her back.

She’s not owned by a Sheik. Just a bunch of friends who got together, to race a horse. Living the dream. And giving hope to thousands of others, that our own minimal shares might one day turn to gold.

Dare I say, as much as she’s a superstar, there’s a touch of the ordinary about the Black Caviar camp. How good is that. Nothing appeals to the Aussie sports lover more than to think one of us could have been in that group photo with them.

It’s a rare thing for a modern racecourse to hoist the House Full sign. Numbers have been dwindling for years. Too easy to punt on the internet at home, wearing your pyjamas and not walking the length of the straight to find a toilet.

We constantly hear about race clubs trying to attract crowds. Marketing gurus are sometimes involved. Slick slogans and shiny campaigns. Bands and fashion parades and giveaways.

They don’t always work. So what does? What makes 20-thousand people want to catch trains and buses and taxis, to stand shoulder to shoulder on a Saturday afternoon?

A horse. The best horse. They’ll come from far and wide, if they get to see a living legend. So they can tell the grandkids they were there the day Black Caviar made thirteen a lucky number.

She’ll be as short as it gets. No one will care. Watch how many have a dollar bet, and keep the ticket, just so they can frame it for Dad’s wall of fame.

Back on Facebook, we’re both trying to stay relaxed ahead of the big day. I can’t give too much away about our private conversations, except to say, she’ll be winning. No boasting there, and no great surprise. Just fact.

The champ wants to hear the cheers. From the top of the straight, as she unleashes that breathtaking sprint. She wants the flags waved, and the banners hoisted high. And when Luke brings her back to scale, she wants to hear the passion that Queenslanders are famous for.

What a day it will be. If you’re heading to Doomben, soak up every last bit. If not, don’t despair. She’ll have all the details on Facebook. For her friends anyway.