Magical Black Caviar set for Ascot debut
LESS THAN 90 seconds will establish if Black Caviar is everything she’s cracked up to be in today’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Australia’s superstar sprinter is widely expected to maintain her unbeaten record in what will be her 22nd start, but her first outside of her home country.
The pre-race hype has been considerable, with typical Aussie bullishness maintaining that even long odds-on odds will be like stealing money from the bookmakers given Black Caviar’s superiority to any other sprinter.
No doubt the Americans might have something to say about that, but sprinting is something of a poor relation in European terms so expectations are high for a crushing display by Black Caviar in a manner similar to Frankel on Tuesday.
A huge Australian media presence is following the giant mare with her race live on TV Down Under where one commentator said yesterday: “It’s a national event. She is not racing, not sport, she is beyond that now and everyone wants a piece of her.”
The pressure on trainer Peter Moody is considerable and he admitted: “It is probably pretty important for the Australian racing industry . . . I’d be lying if I didn’t think I had some obligation to the Australian racing industry to make sure this works.”
However we have been here to an extent in that So You Think arrived at Aidan O’Brien’s yard with a towering reputation too. And while he proved yet again during the week he is top class, the impact he has made has not fully lived up to the Aussie hype.
What helps Black Caviar is that on world handicap rating figures, she could run significantly lower than her peak and still emerge best over this opposition.
Last year’s winner Society Rock and the French filly Moonlight Cloud look the best of them but ordinarily they wouldn’t be capable of competing at the figures Black Caviar has regularly set.
Another complicating factor is softish ground. But if Black Caviar can’t win this, then there are going to be some very long Aussie faces around Ascot.
The Aussie vibe to the final day of Royal Ascot 2012 continues in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes where Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, first and second in last year’s Melbourne Cup, renew hostilities in a race that also includes Aidan O’Brien’s Memphis Tennessee.
Sea Moon, runner-up to St Nicholas Abbey in the Breeders Cup, only scrambled home on his first start of the season at Goodwood but will like the conditions and if anywhere near his best will be tough to beat.
Willie Mullins broke his Royal Ascot duck on Tuesday and brings Simenon back for another go this afternoon in the longest race on the British calendar, the Queen Alexandra Stakes. Ground conditions will be softer now though, something that shouldn’t inconvenience Jim Bolger’s wide-margin Curragh winner Move To Strike in the Chesham.