Black Caviar Live: Royal Ascot preview and race updates
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Black Caviar taking on Royal Ascot (Image: Bronwen Healy / Bronwen Healy Photography)
Black Caviar will have the support of Australia as she chases Royal Ascot glory in front of 80,000 tonight. Be sure to join us throughout the night for live race updates and blog of the 12:45am Diamond Jubilee Stakes as we build to the biggest moment in Black Caviar’s career.
Black Caviar is rated the best sprinter in the world. Having achieved everything a sprinter possibly could in Australia, she will race against an international field of 14 sprinters tonight.
And while Black Caviar is the short $1.20 favourite for six furlong or 1207 metre race, she will be running on the slowest ground she has ever competed on and will be meeting horses from outside of Australia for the first time in her career.
Each of the 147 horses she has beaten in her 21-start undefeated career have all been trained in Australia.
The Ascot track has been rated good-to-slow for much of the week but rain on Thursday had the rating in the soft range for Friday’s meeting.
In the first race on Friday, the dominant winner Newfangled was 24 lengths (or four seconds) slower than the standard winning time at Ascot for the class and distance of race she won.
Make no bones about it – the track is rain affected. In Australia it would be rated heavy.
And with Black Caviar racing in the 27th race of the carnival, don’t expect the ground to be improving any time fast.
On Friday, horses were failing due to the track condition.
I’ve done some form on Black Caviar’s breeding in an attempt to shed some light on whether she will appreciate the ground and I must say it’s not good news.
The progeny of sire Bel Esprit have a higher winning strike rate on good or dead ground than anything softer, while the children of damsire (maternal grandfather) Desert Sun prefer the firmest ground possible.
Of the horses mother Helsinge has produced, retired four-year old full brother to Black Caviar, Moshe, is the only one to have performed on any ground worse than the standard dead (4) and that was when he won a restricted race at Moonee Valley in Melbourne on a dead (5) in November 2010.
Black Caviar’s favourite going is probably not rain-affected turf but her professionalism, experience, strength and unprecedented cruising speed give us hope that she will perform well in the ground.
Her barrier of 15 is a positive I feel. It gives jockey Luke Nolen the option to race down the stand-side rail and that should act as a guide for the mare in her first race at the tricky Ascot course.
The last Australian to win this race is 2009 Caulfield Guineas winner Starspangledbanner and he came down the near-side fence to win the 2010 Golden Jubilee (as it was then known) for Irish trainer Aiden O’Brien.
Interestingly, a horse I assess as a main danger to Black Caviar tonight, Society Rock, finished second in Starsplangedbanner’s Golden Jubilee win.
Can anything beat Black Caviar?
By all reports the champ has settled in well in the UK and is ready to run the race of her life.
More than 10,000 Australians are expected at the track with London ex-pats making up half of that number. We are all hoping for a Black Caviar victory tonight and I’m confident she can do it.
There is not a lot of depth amongst her 14 opponents but there are three very good horses she meets in this race.
Society Rock will start third favourite tonight but he will appreciate the soft ground and is a Diamond Jubilee specialist. He won this race last year and finished second in 2010.
I think he enters the 2012 Diamond Jubilee on the back of his best-ever Royal Ascot lead-up.
His third-place finish in Group Two grade at York was the perfect prep run for Ascot. Ridden in his usual hold-up style Society Rock charged late and was unlucky not to prevail in the race won by the unfortunately-named Tiddliwinks.
I will tip Society Rock for second because I think that’s where he’ll finish but there is only one horse that can beat Black Caviar tonight and that is French mare Moonlight Cloud who is the most talented challenge for the Aussie champ.
Moonlight Cloud’s best performance is a four-length romp over Society Rock at Deauville in France last year over 1300 metres in Group One grade.
The only concern for this mare is the distance. In her only start at Ascot, she finished an unlucky – but well beaten – fifth over this trip and at this level.
She has never won over anything shorter than 1300 metres but she possesses a sharp turn of foot, prefers soft ground, is on the up and cannot be discounted.
The only other threat for Black Caviar lies in Bahraini horse Krypton Factor. He won the Golden Shaheen over this journey on Dubai World Cup night in March, beating a field that included the best sprinter in Hong Kong, Lucky Nine.
Finishing at the end of the pack that night was the former number-two sprinter in the world, Australian colt Sepoy.
The Golden Shaheen was run on Krypton Factor’s favourite surface – the artificial Tapeta.
I don’t think he’s the same proposition on turf. He travelled to Singapore for their International Sprint in May and finished a very disappointing fifth on slow turf against a weak field.
I think this horse is incredibly gifted but he’s not suited by the surface and we learnt at Kranji that he can’t accelerate on a sticky track. I have time for this horse but I’m happy to take him on in this race.
The rest of the field don’t have the same class as the aforementioned four but keep an eye out for Soul, who was once trained by Peter Snowden in Australia.
I think the best roughie in this race is The Cheka – he nosed out Society Rock for second place last time – but the best I could see him finish is third.
I’m sticking with the Aussie mare tonight. I think Black Caviar will show the world just how good she is when taking out the Diamond Jubilee by four lengths. As I wrote above, I’ve got Society Rock for second, Moonlight Cloud, the only knock-out chance, for third. The Cheka is the best of the longshots.
Once again, if you’d like to watch Black Caviar tonight, you can stream TVN’s simulcast of At The Races’ coverage of Royal Ascot from 8:45pm AEST.
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