Black Caviar needs a heavyweight bout with Frankel

Justin Cinque Columnist

By , Justin Cinque is a Roar Expert

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    It’s not often that a sport like horse racing is responsible for a truly great clash of the titans but that would be the case if Australia’s undefeated queen Black Caviar met the undefeated English colt Frankel in a mile race during June’s Royal Ascot Carnival.

    Black Caviar has won all of her 18 starts and so big is her imposing reputation that she is beginning to scare away every worthy challenger there is in Australia.

    A horse like Sepoy, for example, would give Black Caviar a race. At least we’d be led to think he would.

    But Sepoy, a winner of ten races from 11 tries and almost $4M in stake earnings, will never take on Black Caviar. There is too much lose for the Peter Snowden- trained galloper.

    Despite his perceived brilliance, Sepoy would be a clear underdog in a race against Peter Moody’s mare and if he suffered defeat, would lose consider stud value for his owner Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

    So instead Sepoy, along with other highly-touted sprinters, like the undefeated Perth galloper Barakey, are being prepared for an upcoming autumn preparation with the specific aim of avoiding Black Caviar.

    But it doesn’t end there because even the second-stringers don’t want to take on the champ.

    If you ever thought some of Black Caviar’s wins were a bit soft, you may be onto something.

    It’s probably because she met a bunch of horses not worthy of participation in the good group races Black Caviar contests.

    It’s got to the point, highlighted by her trouncing of the sub-standard Australia Stakes field at Moonee Valley last month, where Black Caviar is too big for Australian racing.

    And it is mismatches like the Australia Stakes farce – the sort of one-sided affair you’d expect to witness in a fight between a former rugby-league player and some bloke from the pub – that are tarnishing the reputation of Black Caviar.

    Because despite being in possession of an incredible resume that includes, along with an air of invincibility, the equal third greatest undefeated-winning streak in the 300-year history of global horse racing, Black Caviar isn’t earning the respect you’d expect.

    In fact, racing fans right around the country – which was even evident in The Roar’s live blog of the C.F. Orr Stakes – are arguing horses like Northerly, Makybe Diva and Sunline should be remembered as superior to Peter Moody’s mare because Caviar hasn’t beaten the same quality of opposition and hasn’t carried the weights, the aforementioned greats have.

    But don’t be fooled, Black Caviar is the real deal. And she’s providing the distraction Australia racing needs right now.

    There are some big issues the sport needs to address.

    Our great racing in Australia is meant to be over a middle-distance trip and further. Yet, our breeding industry hasn’t been able to produce a decent middle-distance/staying horse for 15 years now. (Sadly, So You Think, New Zealand-bred, and Makybe Diva, British bred, don’t count).

    In the meantime, the riches of the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups are presented on a platter for imported and European-trained gallopers to claim, thereby propelling overseas breeding and racing industries at the expense of our own.

    But luckily there is a horse called Black Caviar because she has the on-track ability to take our mind off the issues plaguing racing and her presence firmly ensures their place in the background, for the moment at least.

    It is therefore important, that when she begins to get people talking about and attending racing, just as she is now, everything is done to ensure those fans of Black Caviar become fans of the sport Black Caviar dominates.

    And the big question for racing administrators is not how to fix our breeding industry; it is how they manage to keep Black Caviar fans in the sport for good.

    Because, it seems that once the floggings end, once the unbelievable five-length soft victories stop; the people who sat down and watched the great mare will go back and do what they did before she came along.

    If you think seeing Black Caviar smash a field of pretenders is exciting, then imagine what it’s going to be like when she has to a take on an equally brilliant horse that is good enough to force Luke Nolen to ask Cav for the supreme effort.

    I can tell you right now, it would be a hell of a lot more exciting than seeing her scythe to victory against a bunch of listed-grade horses.

    Luckily, the stars have aligned to present us with the horse to challenge Black Caviar.

    His name is Frankel. He’s English and to add a bit of spice, he’s not a sprinter.

    No, Frankel is a 1600-metre specialist that tends to get the job done by running along in the lead so fast those chasing can’t pick up their legs in the straight – the lung burn too much to withstand.

    A match-up with Black Caviar in the Queen Anne Stakes on the opening night (Australian time) of Royal Ascot, on the third Tuesday in June, is a must.

    We already know both horses will be competing at the meeting. And the Queen Anne is the perfect place for the match-up to occur.

    For starters, both horses are eligible to compete in the race and secondly, it is at the perfect distance; the 1609 metres of the metric mile.

    Run down the undulating Ascot straight, it is sure to be a test for Black Caviar, whose pet distance (we think – she hasn’t yet been beaten and the trip is being increased all the time) would probably sit somewhere between 1200 and 1400 metres.

    But in order to entice the Frankel connections, the Caviar camp might have to make the concessions with regard to home turf and distance.

    If this race went ahead, I would argue, it would be one of the biggest sporting events in the world this year.

    I have no idea when the last time two boom undefeated horses like Black Caviar and Frankel met but you only have to look at the stir Cav is already creating on a global scale to get an idea of how big the race would be.

    In case you’re wondering, the biggest sporting event in Australia on the weekend was not of one of the One-Dayers, wasn’t the A-League, or any of NRL trial match.

    Nup, the biggest sporting event in Australia on the weekend just passed was Black Caviar’s Orr Stakes win.

    It was broadcast into America by two television stations – the US racing network TVG and CNN.

    It was also transmitted live into the UK via At The Races – the British dedicated racing channel. And while it hasn’t been confirmed for me, I’d be prepared to wager that it went live into both Asia and France as well.

    Horse racing has the power to make a mark in Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Black Caviar is already beginning to do that.

    And the thought of a possible match-up between Frankel and Black Caviar is already beginning to excite.

    On Sky Channel’s Racing Retro program, Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes said that if the race eventuated he would leave his stable to be a spectator at Royal Ascot.

    Truth be told, despite the economic pressure it would create, I would seriously consider going over myself. We are talking about the potential race of the century.

    If Black Caviar’s connections want their mare to be remembered alongside greats like Phar Lap and Tulloch then she must take the scalp of Frankel.

    Simply winning at Royal Ascot, when so many other Australian gallopers have done so in the past decade, will not suffice.

    The owners of Frankel may take a tad more convincing. They are in possession of a colt worth something in the vicinity of eight or nine figures and a loss could deliver a catastrophic blow to bank accounts but surely the opportunity to achieve greatness is worth more than money.

    I mean a TV rights deal for the race could be worth more Frankel himself!

    If racing wants to be a big-time player in the global sporting landscape, a Black Caviar vs Frankel match-up must occur.