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.