SHE’S SIMPLY THE BEST!
They must have had that predictive sixth sense about Black Caviar when the lyrics to Tina Turner’s musical anthem were written decades before the wonder mare was even a twinkle in the eyes of anyone associated with her – from planned conception to birth and then racetrack and sporting greatness.
Never before has the community, and not just the racing community, witnessed or encountered anything like it. Twenty three wins on end – each one memorable and distinctive for its separate moment of greatness.
Like all human and equine athletes who have earned the privilege of the “greatness” tag attached to their CV”s, Black Caviar is doing what is expected of a “great”. She is demolishing her opposition, and doing it with a sense of ease that defies what we have ever seen in a racehorse. And she has done it twenty three times!
For a champion racehorse, one of the greatest of all time, to do what she did in last Saturday’s Lightning Stakes defies everything that has been witnessed or achieved on a racetrack in modern times.
She was literally on her way to the breeding barn last year after returning battered and bruised from a harrowing trip to the other end of the world to compete at one of the world’s greatest racing carnivals – Royal Ascot, where she literally fell across the line, and when the racing world collectively held its breath and contemplated the unimaginable – a defeat, and the first for Black Caviar. But she didn’t. It was as if the tyranny of distance had never ever been conquered. But Royal Ascot was the trip that Black Caviar had to make, to seal her greatness outside Australian soil.
So while racegoers wondered if they had seen the last of her in competition and would be treated to a ho-hum racecourse farewell parade, Peter Moody had other thoughts.
Rightly he decided against a knee jerk reaction to retire the great mare and move on.
Demonstrating yet again, why he is an elite racehorse trainer, Moody adopted two of the cardinal rules of racehorse training – patience and avoiding the populist tendency of making decisions on the run. Moody knew that this once in a lifetime wonder racehorse was just that.
Deep down inside, Peter Moody did not want Black Caviar to make her racing exit on the back of her numbing last gasp win, almost clutching defeat from the jaws of victory at Royal Ascot. He desperately craved redemption, her legacy of greatness to be reprised at least one more time.
He was rewarded in spades last Saturday. Black Caviar was back to her best, if not better than she has ever been, after eight long months away from a racetrack.
There surely could not be any more superlatives to describe Black Caviar’s threepeat Lightning Stakes victory last Saturday. The superlatives cupboard is well and truly bare.
While racing scribes described her rivals as being “off the bit” starting to chase the wonder mare at the 400 metres mark, we thought she had them under the pump 600 metres out.
You could clearly see jockeys niggle their mounts as far out as 600 metres from the finish, and when Luke Nolen gave her a bit more rein around the 400 metres mark, she idled almost on auto pilot into cruise control and cruised to the line with her head on her chest under a strong hold from Nolen.
Amazingly she smashed a 25 year plus record for the distance held by another great sprinting mare Special, a record which on reflection, was only going to be broken by Black Caviar.
The frightening aspect of Black Caviar’s record breaking Lightning Stakes win last Saturday is that if Nolen had given her a fraction more rein, she would have smashed Special’s record by an even greater margin and posted a time which might have been preserved for posterity.
Her elevation to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame during the week is a fitting tribute to the champion mare. She will inevitably be further honoured with Legend status. It will be Racing’s legacy to future generations.
Black Caviar is simply the best, and as the next line in Tina Turner’s song goes “she’s better than all the rest”.
ROUGH JUSTICE FOR SMERDON
We followed the Robert Smerdon case with interest from afar and discussed its outcome with some prominent Melbourne trainers and racing people.
The consensus was that the penalty imposed on Robert Smerdon was excessive given the fact that the thrust of the Stewards prosecution was that he had brought the image of racing into disrepute.
As one racing legal wag pointed out, since when has our legal system penalized persons for offences deemed to be based on perception. Perception of what? That an industry with an already tarnished image and brand could be further tarnished by a trainer delivering a five figure sum of money from a trusted long time friend and mate to a jockey whom they both knew?
Smerdon’s friendship was such that he did not ask form analyst Mark Hunter what the money was for. And why would he? “Slings” in racing are as common as asylum seekers. They are commonly given to trainers to pass on to jockeys, everywhere in the world. And who is to say that from Smerdon’s perspective, it was any different on this occasion?
If anything, a very strong case can be made that the pursuit and prosecution of the charges and case against Smerdon, and the continuing publicity that it generated contributed massively to bringing racing into disrepute.
The Smerdon case smacks very much of “guilty until proven innocent” – the polar opposite of the way the justice system works in so called first world western democracies.
But then again racing operates very, very differently. In racing, licensed persons are by and large categorised as “shady” characters by the Stewards. It’s a cops and robbers mentality with the Stewards often being seen as fucking goofy as The Keystone Cops.
Often we think there should be committee looking over the decisions and ensuring that commonsense prevails and not some comedy of errors.
Of course rorts and cheating NEVER happen in the business world or within the “reputable” professions, do they? And it NEVER happens in other sports, does it? No, its just racing. Or so the Stewards in Victoria like to keep telling all and sundry.
COMMON SENSE PREVAILS IN JOCKEY PENALTIES
News Limited newspapers just couldn’t help themselves. Another jockeys betting scandal to be shoved down the throats of a dizzy public punch drunk from the alleged performance enhancing drugs and match fixing scandals that have dominated print and electronic media and conversation headlines over the past fortnight.
When News Limited got hold of the news that Michelle Payne, Michael Walker and Anthony Darmanin were facing separate charges in relation to some pathetically insignificant and minor bets on a mix of races that they did not ride in, overseas races and sports bets on the EPL, News Limited did what all News Limited print media do: they beat it up and revived the notion that Jockeys and betting are joined at the hip – and in big way.
Imagine the embarrassment in the bowels of the Herald Sun newspaper sub-editors dungeon when the charges were actually laid by Racing Victoria Stewards, and the bets were, as one respected Victorian racing identity described as a comical parody of what goes on in the skulls of poorly educated and simple minded people.
Pathetically insignificant bets totalling $57, $100 and $450 on race meetings at Stawell, Lingfield in the UK, the Singapore Gold Cup, on So You Think in the UK, on a Jockey Challenge at, wait for it, Townsville of all fucking places, on the NBA, the EPL and a handful of AFL games, hardly warrant a mandatory two year disqualification, which the three jockeys would have incurred if they were charged with these betting indiscretions in our North Korean type racing jurisdiction that sadly seems to be developing in NSW.
Racing Victoria stewards, to their credit, used their discretion under the local rules of racing which supply to such breaches in Victoria, and slapped a $1000 fine for each of the “pint sized midgets”. They did not deserve any further penalties.
But, not in NSW, where the grandstanders and Mother Teresa types at Druitt Street would have handed down grossly and outrageously severe and possibly career ending penalties mandated in their misplaced rules of racing which seek to seize and own the moral high ground for perpetuity.
Racing would need a higher deity to save it, if one could be found, if the NSW power drunk troika ever get their hands on running Australian racing.
TVN LEAKS SURPRISE NO ONE
Chris “the rooter” Roots’ story early in the week in the Sydney Morning Herald about the TVN/Seven Network deal for free to air broadcasts of racing, is an ominous sign of things to come, given the composition of the new TVN Board.
Considering the ultra sensitive nature of the issue, which identifies a financial black hole for racing from the deal negotiated by TVN with the Seven Network, and which reportedly is the subject of review, it would hardly have been the subject of an official TVN release or statement.
Clearly the story was leaked and from what we know, the greater majority of the TVN Board is livid.
They know who leaked the information, we know who that might be, but of course, he will keep a straight face and categorically deny it. That’s his form – past, present and future. And “the rooter” and other members of Sydney racing’s fifth estate will continue to get “exclusives” about TVN whenever it suits the agenda of this particular grubby “piece of work” as he continues to do whatever he can to undermine the racing broadcast rights holder.
If the new TVN Board is to have any chance of making TVN the viable and effective business enterprise that it could and should be, it cannot afford to be undermined, and worse if it is by one of their own.
ROYAL HAUNT TO HONG KONG
The sale of the promising lightly raced sprinter Royal Haunt to Hong Kong, might thankfully provide a benefit by upgrading the wardrobe and appearance of former owner David “mumbles” Moodie.
“Mumbles” has needed a makeover for as long as we have recognized his persona in the mounting yard in Sydney and of course every time we have set eyes on him when we have attended a race meeting in his home town of Melbourne.
“Mumbles”, who is not short of the folding stuff, has a wardrobe befitting what’s on offer at the various charity opportunity shops that have proliferated across Sydney and Melbourne. While we applaud “Mumbles” if he is patronizing these worthwhile charities, the odd Armani or Zegna, even if it from downtown Shenzhen, wouldn’t go astray.
If what we are hearing is correct, it took a high seven figure wad of Hong Kong dollars to convince “Mumbles” to part with Royal Haunt- or AUS$900,000. The horse has gone to John Size.
Given the dubious record of high priced purchases in Hong Kong, we would have had taken odds that Royal Haunt would finish up another high priced “Lemon”. But, if he is headed to the John Size yard, then we would be snapping up the odds about Royal haunt being a very successful racehorse in Hong Kong and at the highest level.
The genius of John Size and the lack of depth in the top level of sprinters in Hong Kong, could make Royal Haunt a very good investment for his new Hong Kong owner.
SOME INTERESTING SIGHTS AT FLEMINGTON.
First, Melbourne trainer Danny O’Brien. The looks and demeanour said it all. Not one of Danny’s best days at the office. Plenty of well fancied runners at his favourite race track Flemington, and none of them saluted the winner’s stall.
Some of the rides were sub-standard and Danny O’Brien takes no prisoners when it comes to jockeys and bad rides.
His considerable ego would have taken a decent whack and to make matters worse some of his envied rivals had better days at the office.
Second, Chief Steward Terry Bailey. We gave Bailey the once over at Flemington and concluded that he has a “Lord Monkton” type look in his eyes. A frightening thought, particularly for Melbourne jockeys and trainers!
Third, Members facilities at Flemington. They know how to look after their members, and the eye candy ain’t too bad either!