The Mounting Yard heads back to Caulfield this week after a three-week hiatus.
It took Black Caviar to get me to go to the races, and I would have happily paid ten times the $40 entrance fee to witness the once in a lifetime opportunity.
I applauded Black Caviar as she trotted past on her way to the starting gates, and cheered again as she moved in to top gear as she topped the rise and set out after Hay List.
Hay List is part owned by Katie Davenport, who last week married my mate Tom Carroll in Las Vegas. Tom summed it up well: “He is a star, he was sensational, he is back, but she is the best horse I have ever seen”.
The couple of hours that I spent at the races will stay with me forever.
The racetrack is a beautiful part of the world and Black Caviar’s presence really put the “Royal” into Randwick.
The public transport to and from Royal Randwick could be described as poor, so I parked my car next to “Duck Pond” inside Centennial Park which offered a brisk fifteen minute walk with the black tie brigade.
I felt like I was the only person in T-shirt and shorts as all the men came dressed for Derby Day and the girls were simply stunning as I followed the trail of Chanel No. 5 .
With under 45 minutes to go I made a beeline for Black Caviars’ stable and as luck would have it she was parading around just in front without her saddle on.
Just as the great mare walked past me, she stopped cold and turned her head and winked as I took her picture on my iPhone.
Call me crazy but not even Jennifer Hawkins could have topped that.
I was surprised to have no problem in finding a high vantage position to watch the race uninterrupted and while I anxiously waited for the gates to open, I wondered how the ATC would ever top this.
It was Derby Day with nine Group races on the card and the added bonus of being able to showcase the best racehorse in the world.
Why was there so much empty space to my right on the grass? Where are the kids, the next generation?
Why are the ATC going to spend over $100m on a bigger grandstand when Derby Day with Black Caviar can only attract 25,000 people?
It is probably fair to say that Black Caviar attracted an incremental 10,000 people like me and had she not started in the T J Smith there would likely only have been a modest crowd similar to the lowly rated Cronulla Sharks NRL home game played that night in the Shire.
High on the agenda of the next ATC Board meeting must be how to attract people to the races, and then get them to return.
I have seen Black Caviar now and as she is likely to never race again in Sydney, I have no reason to go back to the track.
Why would I put up with the criminal prices for everything and the poor facilities when you can have everything you want in the comfort of your home, pub or club? This surely must be the great dilemma for the administrators.
Race clubs have to compete with the TABs and the online bookies. As the line goes: if the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad will go to the mountain.
Punters would come to the track if they could have the same comfort and facilities they can get off track, including a table and chair with the ability to plug your lap top in and watch and listen to a TV.
Lucky you don’t need commentary for a Black Caviar race, as it was inaudible from where I stood.
I now get what all the fuss was about when as a kid the adults would talk about how they saw Phar Lap, Tulloch and Bernborough race.
I can now say to the kids that I saw Black Caviar, but sadly, it could be a struggle getting their attention away from a simulated game or an iPod.