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.


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.