Racing: Mighty mare equals Phar Lap

Black Caviar. Photo / Getty Images
Black Caviar. Photo / Getty Images

Black Caviar, the mighty mare who has won the imagination - and hearts - of Australia, stormed to her 14th win in a row, equalling the record of the legendary Phar Lap 80 years earlier.

The crowd of 32,000 people crammed into Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday cheered on the superstar as she surged past leader and runner-up Karuta Queen in the straight to win the Schillaci Stakes by more than four lengths.

The world's fastest racehorse, owned by a syndicate of five couples, has attracted a cult following, and some of her biggest fans were out in force yesterday, dressed in custom-made outfits in Black Caviar's salmon-pink and black-spot colours.

The five female owners of Black Caviar celebrated the historic race with family and friends in a private trackside marquee provided by the Melbourne Racing Club.

"We are excited and we're relieved," owner Jill Taylor told the Herald Sun. "It's just amazing what is happening."

The five couples bought the horse as a way to socialise around something they all loved, racing. None of them expected that Black Caviar would have such an incredible impact.

"It's a beautiful group and we're all friends, and that's what it was all about in the beginning," Taylor said.

"We just lucked it with the most amazing horse."

All things going well, plans are for Black Caviar to run at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day and the Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington on November 5.

Trainer Peter Moody says it is unfair to compare the champion mare with Phar Lap because the latter "kept the nation on its feet during the Depression".

But she certainly had those at Caulfield on their feet as she strolled home at her first start this campaign to take her record to an unblemished 14 wins - six at group one level - to equal the sequence recorded by the great Phar Lap during his career.

The win in the Schillaci prompted Moody to declare "the world is her oyster", while jockey Luke Nolen said it was little more than a track gallop.

The mare stole the show at Caulfield, where it was estimated about 10,000 extra patrons turned up to watch her make history.

Moody was "both relieved and excited" with the performance. "She now is fully matured but I don't think she was at her best today," he said. "She will improve out of that."

Nolen said he didn't take too much notice of the flag-waving and cheering fans stretched along the length of the straight, but he would "let it sink in when I have a couple of beers tonight and watch the race on replay".

* * *

The Caulfield Cup is shaping as a race for imports trained by locals.

Mark Kavanagh has import December Draw as a hot $2.80 favourite in latest TAB markets.

Kavanagh is still looking for his first Caulfield Cup after favourite Maldivian was deprived of a run in 2007 when the horse gashed his head at the barrier and was withdrawn.

Next best in betting is Midas Touch, one of the imports owned by Lloyd Williams, at $8.50.

But there was talk on Saturday all was not well with another Williams-owned import At First Sight and that he was unlikely to contest the 2400m handicap.

He is third favourite at $9.

Another import, Lucas Cranach, is fourth favourite at $11 after being backed from $51 early last week.

He will go around under the banner of new trainer Anthony Freedman after his Hall of Fame brother Lee stepped down.

The highest-rated local in betting is Absolutely, trained by Michael Kent, at $13, while other internationals Glass Harmonium ($17), Mighty High ($19) and Mourayan ($26) are next in betting.

Those three internationals are trained by Michael Moroney, Hong Kong's John Moore and Lloyd Williams' private trainer, Robert Hickmott.

The Melbourne Racing Club has been keen for a decade to have the Caulfield Cup an internationally recognised race

Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter said trainers had looked to New Zealand for stayers but "the prizemoney in Europe is not strong and the Australian dollar has been strong" so owners were "cherry-picking horses around the world to race here".

Anthony Cummings agreed. "The world is shrinking and it will happen more often."

Peter Moody said: "It is telling you something."

But Moody said "a lot of water has to go under the bridge yet before we concede the Caulfield Cup to imports and we [locals] might bounce back".

The final field will be announced with the barrier draw on Wednesday.


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