Racing misses out as Black Caviar ducks Frankel
Black Caviar taking on Royal Ascot (Image: Bronwen Healy / Bronwen Healy Photography)
The dream match-up between Frankel and Black Caviar has no chance, after the champion Australian mare wasn’t among 36 entries in August’s Sussex Stakes when nominations were taken last Wednesday.
The possibility of a match race created plenty of interest because Black Caviar and Frankel are undefeated champions who race on opposite sides of the world.
Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody had voiced his intentions to prepare the champion five-year old in Melbourne’s spring before travelling to Hong Kong to race in December’s international meeting at Sha Tin.
Remaining in England until August, then, is out of the question because of stringent quarantine laws, and as such Black Caviar will not be racing Frankel. The Caulfield mare will have two starts in England over 1200 metres before returning to Australia in July.
This a massive opportunity lost for racing.
Black Caviar has done wonders for Australian racing, but a clash with Frankel would have propelled the sport to unprecedented levels in this country. Even if she lost the match-race it would do more for racing than anything she could achieve in Hong Kong.
Had the race lived up to expectations as a classic struggle, it surely would have won racing new fans. Great moments win over ordinary people.
Racing is a sport with an ageing following crying out for new fans and new blood.
I’m sure the connections of the Black Caviar, led by trainer Moody and senior owners Neil Werrett and Gary Wilkie, are doing what they believe is best for the mare.
But Black Caviar is so great she has a profound impact on the sport. When this is the case, the absolute best interests of the horse can be placed behind those of the sport.
And in this instance that meant Black Caviar stepping up to a mile to meet the world’s best miler, Frankel, in his home country, in the Sussex Stakes.
When the sport is put first, the legend of the animal can grow.
The connections of Phar Lap could have easily retired the horse when he was constantly allotted massive, unfair weights in handicaps.
But Phar Lap raced on, was even sent to America to race, and in doing so, continued to provide hope for the Australian people during the depression years until his unexpected death at age five.
80 years since his death, his legacy lives on.
Black Caviar, a winner of 21 races from 21 starts, 11 times at Group One level, is one of only a few Australian horses worthy of comparison with Phar Lap.
Now that there will be no race with Frankel, it is imperative the mare continues to be undefeated. The heightened interest she brings to racing rests on her unbeaten record.
The owners of Black Caviar have expressed interest in stepping the mare up to a mile but I envisage the champion will race at a maximum distance of 1200 metres until next year’s Dubai World Cup meeting in March.
For Frankel, the options remain open.
His trainer Sir Henry Cecil had expressed a desire to take on Black Caviar but now his attention is firmly placed on preparing his horse for Royal Ascot and the almost certain step up to 2000 metres in the months after it.
Parts of the English racing community expressed disappointment when it was announced Black Caviar would not race Frankel but they already have so much to look forward to in the coming months.
This June’s Royal Ascot promises to be one of greatest, and there are realistic hopes the English Triple Crown will be won for the first time since 1970 after Camelot took this season’s second leg with a stirring come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s Epsom Derby.
Frankel and Black Caviar may never meet on the racetrack, and the sport will be poorer for it, but at least we can look forward to the chance of their unbeaten runs continuing.
Justin ‘caught the racing bug’ at a young age and is a keen student of sport’s history. After writing for The Roar for more than a year and proving his staying pedigree, he will cover the the sport of kings as an expert columnist
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