I have always thought Caviar extremely over-rated and could never see what all the fuss was about. There were some sceptics who were saying the same about the equine version, Black Caviar. That was until this weekend.
Horse racing and horses seem to have a real hold on Australians. As one dinky-di Australian said at the weekend ‘any sport that gives you a day off work has to be worth following,’ which is a pretty hard statement to argue against.
The Melbourne Cup of which he mentions really does stop the nation. Phar Lap who died way back in 1932 is as well known in this country and Sir Donald Bradman and far better known than most of the previous heads of state.
There have been other horses appear and be compared to the incomparable Phar Lap. Phar Lap created his own legend. In his first race Phar Lap finished last. He did not place in his next three races. He won his first race on 27 April 1929,he then didn’t race for several months but was then entered in a series of races, in which he moved up in class. Phar Lap took second in the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick on 14 September 1929. It was only then that the racing community started showing him some respect.
As his achievements grew, many tried to halt his progress. In 1930 criminals tried to shoot him after he had finished track work, luckily they missed, and he went on to win the Melbourne Stakes that very same day. Three days later he won the Melbourne Cup.
In a racing career that lasted four years, Phar Lap won 37 of the 51 races he entered. In 1930 and 1931 he won 14 races in a row, and incredibly from his win as a three-year-old in the VRC St.Leger Stakes until his final race in Mexico, Phar Lap won 32 of 35 races. He was apparently beaten by a short head and neck in the three races that he did not win, except for the 1931 Melbourne Cup where he finished eighth when forced to carry 10st 10lb (68kgs), more than most jockeys!
Black Caviar thanks to her win at Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes has won 22 races in a row, and has confirmed her place as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. It was incredible that so many Australians stopped what they were doing on Saturday evening to watch this mare race.
The win was incredible on so many levels. Most horses that travel in the other direction to try and take the Melbourne Cup back to Europe or the Middle East come to Australia 6- 8 weeks in advance. Black Caviar flew to the UK two weeks before the race.
Not only that but while many were criticising her jockey Luke Nolen who stopped riding her in the last 100metres as is the norm, because she is usually home and safe by then, it transpires that she had sustained a grade-four tear of the quadriceps and a grade-two tear of the sacroiliac during her courageous victory. Thus proving that she is a very special horse with the true Australian never-say-die attitude, and one that fully deserves to be placed on a pedestal alongside Phar Lap.
Trust me when I say I no longer think Black Caviar is over-rated, the fish eggs? Sadly they still are!