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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How we let Black Caviar into our family. And we don’t want to let her go.

April 18, 2013

The tears have dried up now. We’ve composed ourselves, knowing the journey has come to an end.

And what a journey it was. Twenty-five starts. Twenty-five wins.

I remember Steve Hewlett on 4TAB giving her a wrap after her second or third win. Said she might be something special.

Now, we say that lots in racing. Usually, for anything that salutes, when we’re on board. Overcome some trouble, and you can make that extra-special.

But Steve was spot on. This mare with the giant arse named Black Caviar, would dazzle us. Time and again.

For a while, it was just racing folk following her progress. She would lose, eventually. They all get beaten. Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town. All of them.

But not Nelly. She kept winning. Soon, other sports followers got involved. Then the general public. Those who would rather read the classifieds than the form guide.

Kids started wearing her colours to the races. Mums made flags. Dads had dollar bets and kept the tickets.

They did tv specials on her. Books and magazine articles. She found time between trackwork sessions to set up her own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

They took her overseas, and she won in front of the Queen. Just. When the narks wanted to write her off, she came back and went even faster.

Win number 25 was at Randwick. It was breathtaking. The victory we’ll never forget.

Now it’s over. The most magnificent of careers, finished. She’s off to the breeding barn. How do you think the first stallion will feel on the big day? He’ll be texting his mates all morning.

We all get to keep our special memories of the Mighty Mare. I have two that stand out.

The Teenager and I sat up late, the night Black Caviar raced at Royal Ascot. I loved that she got caught up in the excitement of it all.

The two of us were joined by an entire racing industry on Twitter. We cheered, and gasped, and then cheered again. It felt like we were all in the same lounge room at midnight.

The other unforgettable moment, was when she raced at Doomben. I wrote that night that when she hit the front, it sounded like the grandstand roof had lifted off. I’ve never heard a roar like it, at any other sporting event. Even now, recalling it, I get chills.

Anyone who has watched her anywhere, had that same feeling. How lucky we are.

There will be other champions. We’ll dress up in someone else’s colours one day down the track.

But there won’t be another Black Caviar. A once-in-a-lifetime champion.

We owe Peter Moody and her owners so much. They shared her, when they could have kept her locked up at Caulfield. They gave of their time, and promoted the sport they love at every turn.

I’ve written more about the Mighty Mare on these pages than any other subject, outside of my much-loved girls. They’re lucky the horse has given it away. She was catching up.

Thanks for the memories, BC. Good luck having babies. We’ll never forget you. And if you find the time, can you let us know which of your youngsters runs the fastest? A Twitter post will do just fine.


Why it was more than just a win. The Mighty Mare shuts up the narks and the haters.

April 14, 2013

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.


My secret role in getting Black Caviar back to Brisbane.

February 16, 2013

The connections of Black Caviar were at a loss.

Everyone wanted a piece of the Mighty Mare. Offers were coming in thick and fast. Where should they take her next?

We were on our weekly phone hook-up. Yes, it took up some of my valuable time, but I was happy to assist. As a fellow winning owner (midweek), it was my duty.

Moody came on the line late. Some excuse about stocking the fridge with XXXX Gold, so they’d be icy cold for tonight’s celebrations.

When the master trainer asks a favour, it’s hard to say no. On the promise of a steak at the Breakfast Creek on his next visit, I agreed.

He wanted me to draw up a list, to help them decide where to take the Champ on her farewell tour.

The connections joined in, almost pleading with me. What could I do? As a National Treasure (her, not me) I had to help.

I promised them I wouldn’t share this information, so you’ll need to keep it between us. You know how narky those southern race clubs can get.

So here’s what I sent them. Let me know if you agree. If you don’t, contact the connections.

FLEMINGTON: What a wonderful track. But fair’s fair. She’s running there today. The joint will be packed. Once is enough.

RANDWICK: You know how much I love this place. But there’s so much construction work going on. Not a good look in the after-race photos. And the Sydney trainers will complain that she’s being offered preferential treatment. We don’t need the negatives.

MORPHETVILLE: Nice place apparently. But they turn the lights out after 8pm. How will we celebrate? And we couldn’t listen to that call again. No chance.

ASCOT: Now you all know I love my Perth racing. But it’s such a LONG way to get there. The Great One doesn’t need the trip. Apologies to my western friends, but it ain’t gonna happen.

CAIRNS: Don’t laugh. We could get BC out on the reef for some snorkelling. She’d love that. We’d need some fair size floaties though. There’s no better track to watch The Angels after the last, with rum in hand. Keep it on the shortlist.

And finally….

EAGLE FARM: The ideal choice. They’ll come from the Cape to Coolangatta. The Mighty Mare can spend some time in the sun on the Gold Coast, before heading up to meet the locals at Hendra. Moody can take his place on a bar stool at the Brekky Creek, and every Queenslander will have a beer with him.

It will be around Origin time, so the Mighty Maroons will shout her to dinner. Mal Meninga will give her a Queensland jersey, signed by the boys, that she can wear to the track each morning. And she can sit in the coaches box during the game.

Most importantly, the crowd on that Saturday will make her feel like the most special girl in the world. We’ll cheer till we’re hoarse, over the horse. No one does that better than a Queenslander.

The connections tell me they’re still studying my proposal. Such a big choice. No pressure. Although I will say, they’re saving that seat at the pub for Pete. I’ll have my steak medium thanks.


The best and worst in racing 2012. Or, can someone please find me a winner next year?

December 29, 2012

Just a few days to go, and we’ll be watching fireworks and downing the last cool drinks of the year.

That means it’s time for the racing industry’s most sought after list. The annual Hold All Tickets awards for 2012.

The biggest names in the game will be waking up even earlier, to see if they made a mention. Some will wear it like a badge of honour at the track today. Others will be on the phone to their lawyer.

As usual, send all angry responses to the complaints department. With the 1-hundred dollar fee. Cash or cheque taken.

So here we go. Good luck one and all.

*Greatest Racing Moment.

A host of contenders. But nothing beats Black Caviar at Royal Ascot, notching up win number 22. Just.

What golden theatre. Luke Nolen’s ride, and later, his honesty. Peter Moody’s love of the horse. The fact that she beat the best the Poms could throw up, firing at about 80%.

We were texting and tweeting in the middle of the night. Everyone had an opinion. Sporting gold, and we all felt a part of it.

*The ‘Stick With Me And You’ll Wear Diamonds’ Award.

Green Moon. Good judges knew he would win something big. Bad judges too. Like me. But we all dropped off, just in time for him to stride away with the Melbourne Cup. What were we thinking?

*Trainer Of The Year.

You’ll accuse me of favouring old Queensland boys, but it has to be Peter Moody. His handling of the Mighty Mare has been perfect again. Black Caviar aside, he’s been training winners all over the place. Back a Moody horse, and you know everything has been done to get the nag across the line.

Honourable mentions to Chris Waller, who will keep breaking records in Sydney, and Rob Heathcote. The Group Races will keep coming for Brisbane’s top conditioner. Hopefully a Stradbroke, with a lightly raced maiden coming back from a spell in the coming weeks. No pressure Rob.

And if you’re not backing Desleigh Forster horses, you should be. She’s winning everything. I’d love to be in with her for a Gold Lotto ticket tonight.

*Jockey Of The Year.

Tough. Glen Boss gets the nod, through weight of winners at the top-level. Few enjoy that winning moment better than Bossy. Just ahead of Hugh Bowman. No-one seems to be riding with more confidence at the minute. Nash and Damian have had their problems.

A few to follow for the New Year. Josh Parr will ride a heap of winners in Sydney, now that he’s linked with Moody. A perfect fit. Same for Ryan Wiggins in Brisbane. A highly talented horseman with a fierce competitive streak. It’s no fluke Heathcote is putting him on more and more top chances. And don’t be afraid of whacking your cash on young Tegan Harrison. An apprentice with a superb attitude, on the way up.

*Greatest Annoyance in Racing.

For me, the number of times totes and betting agencies fall down. On-line computer crashes, and phone systems that can’t take a bet. Especially on big days. Tote machines that freeze, the second a bloke is trying to get a bet on. Yes, it happened to me last week.

Is it too much to ask to have reliability, all year round? One crash is one too many. Use some of the millions we punters fork over to you, and get the system fixed.

*Tipster To Follow in 2013

With social media now abuzz with racing, there have never been more tips on offer. Most of them will empty your wallet. One bloke who gets it right more often that not is Nathan Exelby. The Courier Mail’s new head racing journo does all his own form, and is rarely far from the money. Bet on his Brisbane tips with confidence.

*The 2012 Twitter Media Guru

So many to choose from. Richie #richieplz Callander always provides a laugh. Young Andrew Hawkins has an opinion on everything, and does the research  to back those opinions up. The Queensland trio of Ben Dorries, Gerard Daffy and Peter Psaltis are great fun. But we’ll declare joint winners. Andrew Bensley and Ron Dufficy make us feel like old mates. Highly entertaining, and true experts in their field.

*The ‘All Our Support’ award.

Chris Munce. One tough little bugger. His battle with throat cancer begins within weeks. He has all of those in racing in his corner. So, too, does Kristy Banks. Such courage, after a terrible fall. An inspiration to us all.

And finally, ‘The Horse To Surprise You All in 2013’.

Pintuck. But don’t tell anyone. Not until we get a price for him, anyway.

So there you have it. A few hundred pointless words to fill my final racing blog of the year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these scribblings. Thanks for the feedback, good and bad. It’s nice to know the handful of you out there are still on board.

To you and your family, have a wonderful New Year. Here’s to a year of backing more winners than our pockets can hold.


Why Peter Moody will be sipping XXXX Gold from the Caulfield Cup tonight.

October 20, 2012

Exactly seven weeks ago, on these very pages, I gave you the winner of the Caulfield Cup.

A long-range tip, for one of our great races. The feedback was overwhelming.

The great majority of you had a hearty laugh, and marked the selection ‘Can’t Possibly Win – tipster an absolute dud.’

Hard to argue with that. It must be said, my record in the 2400 metre event is less than flattering.

But a select few, obviously with way more dollars than sense, jumped on board. Without telling anyone. Just in case.

I’ve fancied Lights of Heaven for a while now. Since Peter Moody started wrapping her two seasons back. Something special.

Things didn’t work out last Spring. The mare needed more time. Moody admitted he needed to re-adjust his thinking with her.

She was a different horse in Brisbane over the winter. Improved every run. Blew them away at Eagle Farm. With some left in the tank.

Granted, the smarties still don’t accept the Queensland form as genuine. More fool them.

Moody has always had this race in mind for her. Even when the current  campaign started shakily. He hasn’t wavered. And as the big day approached, the pieces have tumbled into place.

Luke Nolen selected her, over the stable’s two other runners, both imports. Rest assured, if Moody thought the others were better chances, Luke would have been on them.

She’s carrying 53 kilos. A luxury impost for a quality performer. And the camp draws barrier 8 during the week. Perfect.

It will be run at a genuine clip. The on-pacers, including the highly fancied Glencadam Gold, will be at each other for the first half of the race. That’s not the way to win a Caulfield Cup.

Nope. The winner will get a cosy run. A world away from the battle up front.

The big question is .. is she good enough? Does she have the talent to hold off the overseas raiders?

I think she does. We’re about to see the best of her, striding past them on her home track. The great man from Charleville will be holding the Cup aloft.

Seven weeks ago, when I gave her the big tick, she was paying 21 dollars. If you were jumping on last night, you would have had to settle for 8 bucks. And don’t be surprised if she keeps tightening during the day.

The internationals will have their turn in a few weeks at Flemington. But not today. Wish us luck.

When you collect, as big Pete is downing that frosty Queensland brew, remember to keep a few dollars aside for my Cox Plate tip. Another special.   More on that next week.


Getting the timing right. Should Black Caviar be retired?

July 21, 2012

When it comes to giving it away at the top level, timing is everything.

Champions deserve to go out as winners. But they don’t always get the chance.

Footballers want to finish with a premiership. Few do. Cricketers dream of a bagful of wickets or a dashing century. It rarely happens.

Of course, Warnie is the exception. He’s going to play forever. He’ll be the main man in Five/Five games in twenty years, rattling stumps. And the hair will still be perfect.

It’s different on the racetrack. Often, the stars of the show don’t get a say in calling it quits. Trainers and owners make the decision. Horses rarely get consulted.

Black Caviar’s time is almost up. The greatest mare you and I will ever see is just about ready for the good life. So the question is, when should she give it away?

Peter Moody insists his pride and joy WILL tell him. There’ll be signs. And he’ll be watching, and listening. He loves the animal. Would never think about making her have one run too many.

The owners have made a fortune from her 22 straight wins. They, too, have nothing left to gain. And an awful lot to lose.

The easy way out would be to pull the pin now. With a record that won’t be matched in our lifetime.

Fans will remember her final run, as one of her bravest. Out of sorts, she got home, on foreign soil. Just. In front of the Queen and some delirious Aussies.

They could send her off to make huge, expensive babies. And charge big dollars for the boys to get anywhere near the breeding barn.

Yep, it would be all so easy. Except for one thing. What if she has more left in the tank?

That’s the problem. The nagging suspicion, that it doesn’t have to be over just yet.

For all the glory of Royal Ascot, a hometown farewell must be mighty appealing. One final fling in Melbourne. With a country cheering.

Imagine the Spring Carnival this year, with Black Caviar involved. She’d run on Derby Day Saturday, and Flemington’s attendance record would be smashed.

The nation would come to a standstill on that afternoon, to farewell a champion. It might even end up bigger than the Cup itself.

Picture Luke Nolen bringing her back along the fence, with the crowd going wild. Moody might even shout the lot of them. XXXX Gold, of course.

Could it get any better? I doubt it. A sporting moment we would never forget.

One small thing though. She’d have to win. And therein lies the great trainer’s challenge.

He won’t risk her, regardless of how much we want to see such a finish. So he’ll be watching, and listening for those signs.

Maybe the great mare will get to decide her own fate after all.