Black Caviar to race in Sydney after stand-off

Justin Cinque Columnist

By , Justin Cinque is a Roar Expert

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    Who is ready to take up Black Caviar's mantle? (Image: Julian Smith/AAP)

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    Earlier in February, one of Black Caviar’senior part-owners – Neil Werrett – told Melbourne’s Radio Sport National that, as a Sydneysider, it was his desire to see Black Caviar race in Sydney this campaign.

    Werrett is one of Black Caviar’s senior part-owners.

    Shortly after the great mare cantered to a soft victory in Friday night’s William Reid Stakes, trainer Peter Moody confirmed that Randwick’s TJ Smith Stakes (1200m, Group 1, weight-for-age) on April 13 was the likely and logical next start for Black Caviar.

    “The only thing that will stop her running is wet tracks. Onward to the TJ now,” Moody declared.

    But a stand-off between Black Caviar’s owners and the Sydney-based Australian Turf Club threatened to keep the undefeated mare away from Sydney altogether.

    According to TVN’s Richard Callander, Werrett told the Moonee Valley Racing Club’s Committee Room quite clearly on a couple of occasions at a function on Friday night that Sydney is unappreciative of Black Caviar.

    What a load of tripe! As far as I can tell, as a Sydneysider, Sydney loves Black Caviar just as much as everyone else.

    It is rumoured Black Caviar’s owners weren’t happy with the ATC because their demand for 230 members’ tickets for her TJ Smith appearance wasn’t going to be met. For the record, Black Caviar is part-owned by about a dozen people.

    Facilities at Randwick, including the redeveloped Randwick grandstand, won’t be fully complete until the middle of this year and the racecourse is short on room.

    Three weeks out from the Sydney Carnival moving to Randwick for its final three race days, media accreditation hasn’t even been finalised at the eastern suburbs track.

    But Werrett, in particular, wouldn’t have been too bothered if Black Caviar missed the TJ Smith. He also owns three-year old filly Snitzerland.

    And if Snitzerland was to win her maiden Group 1 in the TJ Smith – Australia’s great weight-for-age 1200m sprint – it would increase her stud value enormously.

    And there’s no doubt Snitzerland would be a genuine winning chance in a Black Caviar-less TJ.

    So on Sunday morning, with reports in newspapers and on television that Black Caviar would bypass Sydney, Werrett’s perceived conflict of interest as the owner of both Snitzerland and Black Caviar, promised to deny Sydneysiders the chance to farewell Black Caviar.

    All was sorted on Sunday afternoon and Black Caviar will race at Randwick on April 13. Beyond that her plans are unknown but there are ambitions to travel the mare to England for another stint at Royal Ascot.

    From an owner’s perspective, the added benefit of a Royal Ascot appearance is she can be served by Frankel during the Northern Hemisphere breeding season.

    For many months, connections were adamant Black Caviar would never again race overseas after she sustained injuries when winning last year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

    But a return to Royal Ascot to run in the King’s Stand Stakes (1006m, Group 1, weight-for-age) may be more likely than we think.

    The race is the second on the Royal Ascot program. It follows the Queen Anne (1609m, Group 1, weight-for-age) which opens the Royal meeting on the third Tuesday in June.

    All Too Hard, the half-brother to Black Caviar who is also owned by Werrett and (co-senior part-owner of Black Caviar) Gary Wilkie, is scheduled to make his racetrack swansong in the Queen Anne.

    For Werrett and Wilkie there must be some romance in having their two horses win the first two races of Royal Ascot.

    Not only would it be the first time Australia has won two races on the same day at Royal Ascot but, as far as I can tell, it would the first time Australia has won two Group 1s on the international stage on any day.

    And making it more incredible, the two are siblings and will probably be retired on the day. You couldn’t write a better script.

    There is an opportunity for Black Caviar and All Too Hard to meet in April 27’s All Aged Stakes (1400m, Group 1, weight-for-age) on April 27 at Randwick.

    The All Aged has been billed as a possible race of the decade after Gai Waterhouse declared More Joyous would run in the race if All Too Hard and Black Caviar did as well.

    Racing NSW has been offered $1m from corporate bookmakers to place as prizemoney for the prospective match-race. But the race will not occur.

    Speaking about the possible clash on Friday night, Wilkie said, “I don’t know why you want to do those things. It’s like comparing Frankel and Black Caviar. He does what he does and she does what she does”.

    It’s no surprise to hear Wilkie pour cold water over the idea.

    He has a vested interest in ensuring the reputations of Black Caviar and All Too Hard aren’t hurt by any defeat. Stud value hinges on reputations remaining lofty.

    But his comments seemed strange. When an owner loses sight of why people want to see two great horses race each other there is a problem.

    Thoroughbred horse racing has always been about horses, especially great horses, racing each other. And it’s been done that way for decades. Until recently, it wasn’t so much about protecting career records and stud deals.

    Phar Lap and Amounis; Tulloch and Lord; Dulcify and Manikato; and Northerly and Sunline.

    All is laid bare and the cream rises to the top. These are the match-ups racing thrives on.

    Black Caviar has shifted the ideals in racehorse ownership.

    Perhaps, she is the symbol of a new era in racing, where a great horse’s legacy is just as much secured by its stud value as it is with great victories on the track.

    If that’s the case, Black Caviar is as good as any mare that’s raced.

    But, I must say, I much prefer racing when it’s less about the commercial and more about the sport. And I’m sure all the great geldings would be glad to hear that!

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